Wednesday, October 19, 2011

205 days and then relax....,

Well it's the 1pm on the 19th of October 2011, and I'm sat in a pub in Soho London, relaxing after one of the most stressful days so far in the whole immigration process.

It all started yesterday, with a train journey from Leeds to London, Kings Cross. Arriving in London at 8pm, I proceeded to my hostel for a nights sleep - not that I got any!

I "awoke" at 5:30am, showered and left the hostel at 6am. The first order of business was, 1) passport photos to American spec (different to uk)
2) find somewhere to store my bag & phone. The embassy won't let you take anything electrical in, including key fobs.

Goulds Pharmacy (100 yards from embassy) do both, so I turned up at 6:45am to find that it doesn't open until 7:30am (my appointment was at 9am). There was a really nice italian coffee shop next door, so I sat down, had a coffee and a bacon sandwich.

7:20am the pharmacy opens, take photos (worst ever picture!!!) and drop off my suitcase and phone.

7:30am queue up at embassy, show letter, and go through security. In embassy by 7:45am. On entry get given a sticker with I-906 on it.

8:00am the embassy comes to life. Numbers start being called out (mainly N numbers - non-immigrant)

9am My number flashes up on screen - here we go!

So I stand in front of this window, and slide my passport & letter under the window. The women on the other side then disappears. A minute or so later she reappears with a bright pink file and then starts looking through it.

Finally I get asked my name and the name of my fiancé - she then asks me to put my left hand on a scanner to take my fingerprints, then the same for my right and then both thumbs.

I then proceed to give her the following documents (& copies): police cert, birth cert, divorce decree & affidavit of support.

She looks through them checks them off a list and then hands me a pink slip, telling me to fill it in once I leave to sit back down. She asks a couple of questions then tells me that I can go sit back down and wait for my next call up.

9:20am my number flashes up again - this is now the main event!

I go to window 15 and am greeted my a smiling American lady. She asks me to put my left hand on a fingerprint scanner and once that goes ok, I have to raise my right hand and say "I do", after see recites an oath in which I promise to tell the whole truth.

She then proceeds to ask me the following questions:

Where did me meet?
When was that?
When did we meet in person?
Has Linsey been to the UK?
When was that?
Were her parents going to the wedding?
Did either of us have children?
Was that my niece in the photos?

She then smiled and said "I'm going to approve your visa"

I think I just stood there looking blank!
She then said, "take your pink slip up to the courier counter and you should get your visa in around 5 days" and that was it! It took all of 5mins! What were we stressing about?

I then paid my courier fee, went back to the pharmacy to collect my things, then phoned Linsey at 9:44am to tell her the news!

All I had to then was find something to do in London until 7:30pm and relax.

See you all in MN in a few weeks!!!


Sunday, October 16, 2011

An INTERVIEW (and a pile of nerves...)

So...right after I posted the last blog...I mean like literally the next day Matt got his letter in the mail from the US Embassy in London giving him his interview date and time.

And when is it, you ask?

Wednesday, October 19th at 9:00am GMT
(so...3:00am MN time.)

Can I just tell you that I am nervous beyond belief?!?!?!?!?!?! Any time my mind wanders to that date and time, just a few days from now, my heart races or skips a beat and I get really nervous and I have to stop, take some deep breaths and remind myself that it's going to be ok... But let me tell you that my mind wanders to that date more and more often the closer we get.

And I have a feeling that I will not be getting any sleep the night and early morning of October 18-19...

This is it folks...well, technically it's not IT it...but this is the final step in the fiance visa process. THE INTERVIEW...dun dun dun! I joke, but I'm terrified!

This interview is what is the final step in allow us to be together permanently. After hours spent working on paperwork for the petition and then the visa and then affidavits of support and proof that, YES!, we have met in person, 4 times...this interview is the final decision making step by the US Govt to allow Matt to move to the US so we can get married and put the computer and skype and IM and phone calls behind us.

So...yep...I'm a little bit nervous...anxious...overwhelmed...worried...excited...emotional...thrilled...
scared...feeling a bit unhinged...etc...etc...etc...

I seem to have lost my appetite. I made a delicious soup last night and some buffalo chicken today and I don't want to eat any of it.

The next 2 days can't go any faster. I wouldn't mind skipping them, to be perfectly honest. I don't think I'll miss anything. Just work, rehearsal, and doing stuff at home. Right?

So...if you are someone who prays and believes in the power of prayer, like I do, please pray that Matt has someone who is nice and gracious and friendly. Pray that our paperwork is all in order and what they are looking for. Pray that the process goes quickly. And pray that they KEEP his passport to stamp and process it for the actual Visa. Keeping the passport is a GOOD thing! It's the thing we want! The thing we need! And if you're not someone who prays, good and happy thoughts would also be gladly and gratefully welcomed!

Here's to the next few days...that they go quickly and smoothly. That Matt makes it to London without any craziness (like last time for the Medical Exam). That he can get a little sleep in the hotel before getting up VERY early to get to the Embassy on time. That all the paperwork that is required is there and that they KEEP HIS give us the VISA!

I'm sure I'll post something here and on Facebook on Wednesday after I've heard from Matt. (I told him that he had to call me right before he goes in and when he was out of the Embassy and I sure am hoping that that is before I go to work at 7:00am.)

A HUGE thanks to all of our family and friends who have been nothing but supportive throughout this whole process. We couldn't have done without your love and encouragement. Anyone who has planned a wedding knows that it is stressful...but until you have done so while trying to figure out US Customs you really haven't had it that bad...I think just planning a wedding would be a dream right about now...

Like I said, this isn't IT's will just be the first step completed and Matt actually moving to the States. There is a whole other process of paperwork that will be tackled once we're married and a few years after that and then theirs always the Citizenship option...whew! It really is a pile of paperwork! You should see my's full!

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Waiting Game...

I know, I know…I keep saying this…I am TERRIBLE at journaling, why would I ever think I could keep up a blog…but I am determined to get better at this…call it my new “school year” resolution. J

Just thought that tonight I would give a little update on how the process is going along.

Let’s just start from the beginning…

1: Mid March 2011 – On my trip to the UK in March Matt and I finished filling out the petition paperwork and gathered the remaining items I needed to send in.

2: Early April – I receive a letter in the mail saying they have received my petition and give us a case number to follow online.

3: March 29th – I mailed in a petition form I-129f to the USCIS requesting that Matt, my fiancé, be granted permission to file paperwork for a fiancé visa to enter the US to get married.

4: We wait…and were told we could wait up to 5 months…so counting out it looked like the earliest we might hear anything would be end of August.

5: June 29th – I travel back to the UK to spend 2 ½ weeks with Matt on my summer break.

6: June 30th – We got a RFE, a Request for Evidence, stating that we needed to send in more evidence that we had met in person. A bit ironic…because when I got the letter in the mail I was actually over in the UK on my third trip visiting him there and our 4th time together. I was completely overwhelmed. I was a bit emotional, to say the least. A few tears were shed. Here I was doing what they requested evidence for and I can’t do anything about it. The letter was also stuck in the post office in St Paul because I had had my mail held for the time I was gone. A few calls home, a quick change on the postal services website to stop my mail hold, a trip by mom to the house and the letter read to me over the phone very late one evening in the UK and we determined that it appears that the copies of the plane ticket stubs didn’t have the year on them, only the month and date and that didn’t prove that we had met in person within the last 2 years.

7: July 18th – I return home to the US.

8: July 20th – I overnight the new proof of evidence to the USCIS.

9: We wait…but not too long this time…only a week…

10: July 29th – As I sit in a workshop at a conference I check my email and there is a message saying we have been APPROVED! And what can I do there…I am ecstatic! I can hardly sit still. I want to scream and jump up and down, but I don’t think that is very professional. And problem is…it’s 8:00pm in MN, making it 2:00am in the UK…I send Matt a text and call my family!  Step 1 = complete.

11: We wait…again…while the USCIS send the paperwork to the NVC, from California to Massachusetts.

12: A couple weeks later we call the NVC and get our new number.  Matt then calls the medical center in London and gets a date for his medical exam, August 30th.

13: We continue to wait for Matt to get a letter from the Embassy in London telling him that the paperwork has been received and what he needs to do next.

14: August 30th – Matt travels to London…not an easy trip, but he makes it and has his medical and travels back home to Bradford. (Read his entry earlier on this adventurous day.)

15: August 31st – Matt has a letter from the Embassy saying that have received his paperwork (my petition) and requests additional paperwork to be filled out and returned ASAP.

16: September 2nd – Matt mails in the new paperwork to the Embassy and we begin the waiting process for the next letter telling him when his interview is.

17: And we wait…

18: And we wait…

19: And we wait…

Now…3 weeks might not seem that long to most, but when  you are trying to plan when one of you is going to move to a different country, when your family members will be available for a small, private ceremony, when to schedule in some premarital counseling, when life as you know it will change completely and you won’t have to sit in front of a computer to talk to your Love every day, three weeks sure seems like a life time.

And I feel on edge…I pray everyday for peace and for the strength to get through that day with possibly no answer. You wake up every morning hoping that today is the day that single piece of paper will arrive in the post giving a date. And then mid day, MN time, you find out it hasn’t arrived…again…and the waiting process begins again.
It’s hard to know. Hard to know if they actually received your paper work. Hard to know if it’s being processed. Hard to know if we will actually be able to make the deadlines we have set together for when Matt will move over here.

We have called the Embassy and State Department several times and get the same answers, “things haven’t been processed, London is one of the busiest embassies in the world, they are backed up there right now, don’t make any plans, don’t pay for anything, don’t buy any tickets, don’t put down any money, call back next week.” Every person I have spoken to there has been so friendly and helpful, but the waiting and not knowing is incredibly stressful.

We know that we are in God’s hands (as well as the US Governments) and that in time things will happen. Matt will get that piece of paper with that single date and time, have his interview, get the visa and then move over here. We just don’t know when…being a planning kind of person this is just killer…

And again…we wait…

And while we wait I’ll pray for peace & patience…
And I’ll try to get better at putting up more posts in the blog…
I’ll spend some more time on the computer talking with Matt…
I’ll direct a new show in the RAMS Theatre…
I’ll rake some leaves and get ready for a MN winter…
I’ll Clean & organize the house for Matt to move over…
I’ll spend time with family and friends…

And hopefully within all that waiting that single piece of paper with a date and time will arrive, more paperwork will be filled out and mailed to the UK, an interview will be had, a visa stamp will be given, and then the sweetest thing will happen…Matt will move to the US and we will start our new life together. No computer screens, no vacations to visit each other, no more time apart…no more waiting…

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Grindahl's, Guns and Games - Days 2 of Thanksgiving 2010

First of all...UGH! I am terrible at journaling, so why did I think having a blog would be different. :( Egads! It has been over 2 months since I last posted and I am WAY behind here...I still have the rest of Thanksgiving, Christmas, the musical, spring break, the spring play, and summer in the UK to do...these next few entries may be chalk full or may be short and sweet...we shall see!

Day 2 - Trout Lake Camp!
The day after Thanksgiving, while most people in the US are getting up to go shopping and get deal after deal after deal in the malls and department stores the Grindahl clan is up and ready to go to spend another day celebrating Thanksgiving...this time in the great out of doors at Trout Lake Camp.

We got up, packed up for a night away at the camp and headed out. By the time we got on the road it was almost lunch time, but I just can't do it...wake up and NOT eat breakfast that we stopped at Starbucks for a breakfast sandwich and a chai tea for me...and another stop at McDonald's for a burger for Matt. Then it was officially on the road to camp for the next couple of days. The drive up was nice because we got to spend the entire time together just chatting away like we normally do, but there wasn't the computer screen or 4000 miles or a 6 hour time difference to get in the way.

Matt made comment that he thought MN was so flat and I argued with him that I didn't think so...well, he hadn't been to Iowa or Nebraska yet...and I hadn't been to the UK and now that I have I see what he means. MN is pretty flat...well, in the lower half of the state at least. We'll take him up north into the woods sometime. :)

We arrived at camp, put our stuff in our rooms and got all bundled up to go do some skeet shooting with the boys. It was pretty chilly for a Thanksgiving weekend and I got cold and even had to go sit in the car to warm myself up for a few minutes...something Matt likes to remind me of from time to he was just hanging out outside, no problem, in the cold, cold weather and the rest of us Minnesotans were warming ourselves up in the car. Well...we will soon see who is warming themselves up in the car next time.  Skeet shooting was fun! And we all did pretty well. Even me, the token girl, got a few good shots in.

It was then back to camp for Thanksgiving dinner #2. We had a delicious traditional meal all together in Shalom and Matt even had a glass of root beer. Now you have to know that Matt was constantly making fun of American root beer and he ever found a 6 pack in the UK and drank a can and said that it was disgusting. I told him of course it would be disgusting if it was made in the UK. You need to drink the proper American stuff to really get a good root beer...and wouldn't you know it...he took a drink and turned to me and said..."This is a glass of root beer and I actually like it." Or something along those lines. get him to like peanut butter. You know...smashed up peanuts! ;)

Dinner done we decided to do what we Grindahl's do best when all games! We love to play games and this time it was kind of Grindahl games baptismal by fire for poor Matt (again). Catch Phrase was pulled out...and Matt did a pretty decent job of keeping up! He even got the word Oriels. As in the baseball team...and for someone who doesn't know that an Oriel is a bird and a baseball team he had a fantastic description of "...ummm...ok...this word sounds like a famous American cookie that you all like..." OREOS! Good job, love! :)

After lots of good ol' Grindahl laughter we decided to move on to something a bit more challenging...and strategic...Killer Bunnies! Luke and Jacqui had brought a new game along that required one to gain bunnies for oneself and to kill others bunnies. What a great game! Killer Bunnies!!!!!!! Again...lots of laughter! And then bed time...
The boys - Luke, Nate, Nic and Matt

Nate taking a shot...

Matt out with the family taking aim...
Dad telling and showing us how it's done.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Train, A Taxi, A Medical and Platform 9 & 3/4

Today (30/08/2011) I completed yet another step on the path to getting my US Visa and most importantly starting my life with Linsey.
Before I'm able to go for the interview at the US embassy and hopefully get given my K! Visa, I'm required to attend a medical - the US government in its wisdom have only one medical practice in the UK authorised to conduct the medicals. It also won't come as a surprise to hear that it's held in London – 200 miles from Leeds
Now when I came to book the interview, I remembered that I was attending a family wedding in my parents home county of Worcestershire, so being rather clever, I decided a journey to London from Worcester, was easier that all the way from Leeds. I also thought that a family day out London would be fun, so invited my parents to come down with me! Unfortunately due to circumstances, only one could make it - so after a short discussion it was decided that my Mum would go down with me. She would shop, while I got prodded and poked (with a small amount of stabbing). It was also decided that we would take the train as it would be a) cheaper & b) less prone to unforeseen events - how wrong we were!!
The Day arrives – Tuesday 30th August
The day started off relatively well - Mum & I were dropped off at Birmingham International, and we decided to take the High speed Virgin train - 125mph, Birmingham to London in 1hr 30mins. :-)
We arrived at the station at 9:30am to be told that off peak travel (much cheaper) would not be available until after 10am. So we sat, had a coffee and watched the clock tick over. 10am, we got to the ticket counter, explained what we needed and walked away with our tickets. Mums return journey would be back to Worcester, and mine Leeds. My return journey was set for an hour after Mums, so I could make sure she got on the right train! ;-)
So 10:20am got on the train, and we set off expecting to arrive in London at around 11:45am, plenty of time to explore before my medical at 2:30pm.
11am: the train stops at Rugby (not a stop on the timetable). The driver informs us that there has been an incident on the line. We should resume in 10mins
11:30 we're told a train has broken down, but that the line should be clear at 12
12:00 get told that the broken down train is actually on fire, and the fire service are trying to put it out. But they still expect to resume service
12:30 all lines southbound are cancelled (by this point trains are backing up behind & alongside us). A statement is released saying that trains at Rugby will now return to their destination, you are free to take one of these - however if you want to continue your journey there will be a bus (but they're not sure when they will turn up).
At this point I've rung the medical centre to push back my appointment, mum decides to go back (all fares refunded) on one of the returning trains, and as I now have nothing to lose, I choose to stay and try a bus – but not holding much hope of getting to London on time. So Mum leaves - and I sit and wait for a bus.
I suddenly overhear a conversation between four other commuters, discussing the option of a taxi to London. One of them pulls out, and I butt in (not like me at all). "could I join you?" I ask, "certainly, it'll cost about £35 each. Are you ok with that?", "yep - I really need to get to London"
So 10 mins later, I'm in a taxi with three other people I don't know, plus the friendliest taxi driver I've ever met. A Sikh, who's lived in the UK for 47 years – we got his whole life story on the way down and loved every minute of it.
2:35pm Arrive in London (Euston station). Now have 40mins to make my rearranged appointment.
2:40pm arrive at underground, buy ticket. Find out that signal failures are plaguing the entire underground. 10 min wait for train (should be every 3mins)
3:05pm after two taking two underground trains, I walk out into Oxford Street, the medical centre is 5mins walk.
3:10pm - can I find the blasted medical centre? Seek help
3:15pm time of my appointment - on the right street, can I see the right building – nope!
3:20pm find it - a small brass plaque reads "Knightsbridge Doctors" ring bell, get let in
Arrive in reception; give my name between huge gaps for breath, due to all my running. "Mr Owen, please have a seat can you please fill in this form and can I have the documents you were asked to bring" the receptionist asks
"Certainly, here's the questionnaire, police certificate & vaccination record - oh s#@t! where's the vaccination record, I'm sure I put it in the pack?"
I'm already worked up with the journey down, so this is the last thing I need! I get told no need to worry; you can discuss the vaccines with the nurse. So I sit down and await my fate.
Round one: x-ray. Go's fine,
I go back to the waiting room and ring my parents explaining about the vaccination record, they agree to have a look around their house for it. I get a text from them a few minutes later "We have it, do you want us to fax it?", I reply "Not yet – let me talk to the nurse"
Round two: the doctor. we discuss my answers to the questionnaire. Blood pressure gets taken: doctor: "seems high", me: "I'm not surprised!"
Then…."Have you got a vaccination record?", "Err no, but I can have my parents fax it across, have you got a fax number?"
She hands me the number and I quickly ring them and give them the number.
I then get told nope – "sorry, we thought we had it, but actually it was just the list of vaccines you need!" I tell them "not to worry – I know I can put them on hold and have them at a later date"
I then return to the doctor, she checks various other things - won't go into too much detail ;-) and finally gives me another blood pressure check – it's dropped, so everything is good.
My phone then starts ringing constantly as the doctor finishes up – I finally get up to answer it, and see a text message saying – "found it!" . I give the good news to the doctor, who tells me "that she'll inform the nurse".
As I'm back sat in the waiting room, I ring my parents, to find out what went wrong. It seems that the vaccination record had been placed with my nephews comics!
So one last session – I go into see the nurse, who tells me that the only vaccination missing in my MMR (which I know about), and would I like to have it there. Yep, and as she is giving me the injection, I find out that she's from Norway – makes a few jokes about Mn being very similar (except for the mountains) and I'm suddenly all done.
I'm then led out to reception, pay - £250 ($400) and I'm out of the building 1 ½ hrs later.
First stop is for a beer at marble Arch and some food (first of the day) and then I head off towards Kings Cross Station
Harry Potter
During my last visit to London with Linsey, we both visited Kings Cross Station to try and find platform 9 ¾ (photos on facebook). However I had heard that since then, they had actually identified the platform with the exact location to enter it.
On this occasion, I had a quick look, but couldn't find it, until sat waiting for my train – I saw a sign right in front of me (I must be blind) with directions to "Harry Potters Platform 9 ¾"
I found it!! Now time to get onto my own train and a 3hr trip back to Leeds…..
Thanks for reading

Monday, August 8, 2011


Sorry for the delay in the blog writing, but both Linsey and I have been very distracted, with work, theatre and each other! ;-) . Normal service will return soon, we promise

Now, all the previous blog entries have been about the early the part of our relationship, and we will go back there and fill in the missing details, however we've had some new developments in the Visa application process - so this is to bring everyone upto date with the current situation.

The visa that I have applied for is known as a K1 Visa, this allows me entry to the United States for a period of 90 days, with the intention of getting married.  Once the marriage takes place, I can then apply for a change of status and get what's known commonly as a "Green Card", allowing me residency.

The application for a K1 visa is split into 2 main parts, the first part is the filing of a Petition by a US citizen (in this case Linsey) seeking permission for the alien benficiary (me) to be allowed to apply for a K1 visa.

Linsey submitted the petition (and there is a whole other story there, with getting it all ready) at the end of March 2011.  We then proceeded to hear nothing (except for a notification of recipet) until the begining of July, when while she was visiting me in the UK, Linsey checked the USCIS website. There was movement!

The website stated that a request for furher information had been sent (they wanted proof we had met), and that we had until the deadline to submit this additional information. Hang on, when's the deadine?  A quick phonecall from the UK to USCIS in the US, and we're told "the deadline date is in the notice request we have mailed out, sorry but we can't tell you over the phone!"

Linsey has had all her mail held by USPS while she's in the UK, so how can we get the notice. 10mins on the internet, we've unblocked her mail and her Mom is going to drive over to Linsey's house and sort through it.

It turns out, once we taken a look at the notice, we have until September to submit the extra info - whew!! :-)  - but once back in the US Linsey sends the extra evidence to USCIS (we have all the documents to hand) and we wait with baited breath. The indication is that it could take up to 60 days to process.

July 28 2011 - 8 days after Linsey sends the extra information we get told  - "Approved"!!! There is a huge sigh of reflief from both of us. We had both felt like pressure cookers, and we can now relax for a short period.

So what's next, well USCIS have now forwarded the approval notice onto the National Visa Center.  The NVC will create a new case file, and forward it onto the US Embassy in London - this could anything from 4 to 10 weeks.

In the mean time I have to do the following:
1) Renew my passport (for my benefit - not a requirement)
2) Apply for a copy of my Police Record - Hopefully blank ;-) 
3) Have a medical with the embassy approved Doctor (I require my case number for this)

and finally, 5) Have a immigration interview at the Embassy - with hopefully a visa at the end of it.

So there is still lots to do - most of it now in the UK. But are are still on schedule and are still planning on completing for me to come over either November or Decemeber, but we will update as things move.

I will now let Linsey get back to telling our story (including the most unromantic marriage proposal ever!)


Friday, May 13, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011 - Part 1 - The Ellefson's

Sorry that it has been so very long...the play at the middle school takes up much of my time during the last 3 weeks up to the performances, and then I usually need about a week to recuperate. Goodness, I'm getting old!

Our first "official" meeting at the airport out of the way we trudge into a Thanksgiving weekend with the Grindahl's...not one to be scoffed at! Here goes...

Thursday, November 25th
Thanksgiving morning I prepped a salad to bring to dinner while Matt did his first ever bit of shoveling! It thought it was very sweet that he offered to shovel, but his first comment after having first stepped outside of "You call this a shovel?" had me a bit worried. At least it had only shoveled an inch or so. A light dusting of sorts we might call in MN. I finished the salad, Matt finished the shoveling...well, sort of...he shoveled from the back door, around the side of the house and the front sidewalk, but didn't do the sidewalk out the back to the garage or the driveway. Although Matt's first shoveling may not have been up to Minnesotan standards...he was shoveling, and I didn't have to do it! I was elated! After 41/2 years of caretaking and 2 years of living on my own there was someone else that can shovel...even if only that once...but he'll learn. It's not like it only snows once in Minnesota! :) It may have seemed like a little thing to him, shoveling the sidewalk, but it was huge in my book!

The "work" being done we headed over to my parents for a quick meet and greet of the immediate family before we threw him to the rest of the extended family later that afternoon. And I was nervous...I had never brought someone home to meet the family before, let alone someone who I had just literally met in person the day before. Whew! Heart racing, palms sweating, stomach lurching we got in the car and drove the 7 miles to my parents house. We got their just in time for my brother and sister-in-law to arrive with my sister and brother-in-law from the airport. It was a bit frenzied, but introductions out of the way we had a seat in the living room and just spent some time hanging out playing a little Wii bowling...which I do believe I won and had some general chatting. The family was very accepting! I felt at east and I think Matt did too.

AND...after 8 months, Hilary could finally hear his voice...silly, but true, every time I would talk on Skype to Matt and she would stop by she would make him stop talking or have me put him on mute because she "didn't want to hear his voice" until they met in person. We are still not sure as to why this was what she wanted, but there you go. So, after 8 months of silence, the voice was heard. I have a feeling it had something to do with his accent, but ok...and...

One of my favorite moments of the weekend was about to happen. My Aunt Sue and Uncle Dan were showing up with my grandparents at my parents house before the big meal at Deb's. When they came in it was introductions all around again and Matt sure was charming. You have to remember, if you've already forgotten, we haven't seen each other in social settings...anywho...he greeted my Uncle and Grandpa Omar with a nice handshake and gave my Aunt Sue and Grandma Ruby hugs with a kiss on the cheek...and here it is, one of my favorite moments...Grandma giggled and said "Oooo, I like him!" And gave me this knowing look, the look of raised eyebrows and a grin only a grandma can give.

Did some more bowling. Chatted a bit more and then back in the car and headed out to Deb's for the meal.

Poor Matt! My family is pretty big and we are very close. I think we just stood in the doorway making introductions for the first 10 minutes. I just told him, if you can't remember any of the guys names just call them Paul (as we have 3 Paul's - an uncle, and 2 cousins hubbies). All settled in, introductions done, food ready, we dug in and Matt enjoyed his first Thanksgiving meal. (I'll let him describe the food, cause being the Yank I'm used to the traditional Thanksgiving food etc. No biggie for me.)

As dinner came to a close one of my cousins passed around a list for people to sign up to go out and play some snow football. Oh...I should define that as "American" football.  Both being things Matt had yet to experience..."American" football and playing in the snow. So, my brother, Nate, signed him up. Matt leaned over and asked me what he had just been signed up for. I told him he didn't have to go, especially because he has a bum knee, but he said he wanted to go....and go he did. The family got him outfitted with gloves and a hat etc and he trudged outside to play some ball.

Deb's house has this magnificent picture window looking out to the back yard where they were playing so a few of us settled into our front row, "heated" seats and watched as they all ran, passed, slipped and fell on the snow, which once trudged through reveled ice underneath. (And sorry to say it babe, but you were the best to watch. Not because I love you so, because I do, but because I think you were down as much as you were up. But boy did you try hard! And they even threw you the ball a few times too!) But unfortunately in one of those stumbles Matt twisted his bum knee again. It was at that time that my Aunt Sue turned to me and asked if we could start calling you limpy...welcome to the family! :) I was worried about Matt and his knee because it was only the first day and he was limping and awful lot, but refused to come in until it was over. I didn't want to go out there and ruin his fun so I just stayed inside. I figured that he was an adult and could make the decision about coming in on his own. Plus, it looked like he was enjoying himself. And I think he did.

It started getting dark and it was also getting close to the time for the movie to go on! Yep! We watch a movie...and can any of you guess what movie that might be? It's my all time favorite! The whole family knows it, because shortly after we arrived it was announced to me that we would be watching ELF later that evening on their screen. What fun! And Matt had never seen it! So we settled in to watch a movie I know all the words to! :) And it was great! Sitting next to Matt, surrounded by my family, watching Elf...what more could a girl want?

During the movie I was also introduced to the most addicting game...EVER! Yep! Angry Birds! I wasn't very good at it. Apparently catapulting angry little birds at greedy little green pigs is not one of my talents, but it sure is fun! And Matt is really good at it was fun to have some lessons on  killing the little piggies from an expert!

After the movie we ended up sitting at a table sharing our story and the details of our first meeting and official date the day before. There was also some conversation on the difference between English and American. One of mine and Matt's "favorite" topics. ;) But I will save some of those differences for another post. There are plenty...and some have caused laughter, some have caused confusion, while others have caused just plain frustration.

The evening wound down and we decided to head out because the next day we were heading up to Trout Lake Camp for the day and overnight for Thanksgiving with the Grindahl's.

And that was day 2...more to come!

Our first official photo together...Thanksgiving Day, 2011         

My Grandparents - Omar & Ruby (and Grandma's little smile.)

Nate & Heidi (all the way from Maine!)