30 March 2009

Karis now has a US passport!

I’m not sure we know what to do with ourselves!  Ha!  We’ve been working towards this for 16 months and WE’RE DONE!!!

So, to give you a run down of our trip.  To get an appointment at the passport center, you either have to have a letter from your employer that you need to travel within 2 weeks or a travel itinerary.  We really didn’t have either, although we had talked to a colleague at the Richmond office that we might need to have one faxed while we were at the office. 
We headed to Jerry’s parents after church on Sunday.  We dropped off Brennan & Reegan with them and drove down to Houston, getting in Sunday evening.  Our appointment was for 8:30 am Monday morning along with about 200 other people!!  But, they shuffled us through fairly quickly.
We were a little frustrated that after they took the needed documents it was over an hour before we heard anything as well as watching people that came after us go on through the line.  They don’t allow food & water in the waiting area and Karis was really needing a snack!  Luckily they had a snack area on the first floor of the building, so her & I headed down there.  Wouldn’t you know that while we were snacking, they called her name.  Jerry was able to handle it, but we had to get the letter from our employer that we needed to travel.
We contacted them & they faxed it fast!!  While Jerry & Karis waited to see if our letter was received, I headed to the hotel to check out.  I came back, picked them up & they told us to return at 2:30 to get her passport!!
We had a leisurely lunch at a nice local Mexican restaurant then had a cup of coffee & check email at a coffee shop.  We went back at the designated time & got the passport within minutes!
Then drove back to the grandparents, picked up Brennan & Reegan, got home late & went to bed, exhausted but happy!!
We thank you all so much for your prayers & words of encouragement!  You are a blessing to us!!

We now have a confirmed date of April 7th for departure.  Now on to packing & cleaning!

29 March 2009

Passport Update, Little Bump

We just got a letter from the National Passport Center today.  My parents address is our permanent address, so as my parents are preparing to leave for Greece on Monday (and hopefully a stop in Prague) they stop what they are doing to run the letter up to us.

Turns out that they would not accept a copy of Karis’ greencard.  The guy at the PO where we applied for the passport told us he thought they could take a copy of Karis' greencard.  Well, they can't.  The letter today stated that & if we did have the certificate of Citizenship, that would be good to have too.
We have decided to head down to Houston (where are regional passport center is located) and do this in person.  I'm hoping & praying we can wait & have it handed to us in a few hours!!  I know someone that was able to do this & we are praying for the same.  Karis has to go with us, so we will have a little mini trip with just her.
I found a great 3 & 1/2 star hotel online in downtown Houston just a mile from the passport center for cheap & was able to pay using American Express points!!!  That is a huge praise!! And we found all this out just a few hours ago!!  Ugh!!  But, it's all coming together! :)  I just have peace about it all.

27 March 2009

Crating 201

The crating is DONE!!  We got to the “dock” where they fill our crate.  I thought we would be doing it, but this company does it themselves, but has you watch to tell them  “yay or nay” on where they put things.  I only had to say “nay” to one placement.  I have 2 cherished trunks, one being an army trunk.  They started to put it on it’s side.  It has wooden handles & I didn’t want there to be too much weight that might break the handles.
Otherwise they did a great job!!  They were done packing in 15 minutes!!  We could never have done it that fast!!  However, we had about a fourth of space left.  And you don’t want to leave a crate partially empty.  The shifting could break something.  So, off to Wal-Mart we went to find some fillers!

We ended up purchasing quite a bit extra, but we know we will enjoy having those extra things. 

Opening that crate is going to be like Christmas!!  We got some new toys for the kids.  Especially since their birthdays are coming up.  They may get it a little late, but I really don’t think they will care once they see what we got them!!

We opted to buy LOTS of mac & cheese and Goldfish crackers!  The kids are gonna love that too!! =)  You can see a few boxes of them peaking out if you look close enough.  All in all it was a good experience!

26 March 2009

Crating 101

When we first left to move overseas in 1999 for Russia we were unable to crate.
Then on our first stateside in 2002 we thought we had decided to crate only to later change our minds.  For some reason it seemed too complicated.
Now that we have added 3 kids to the family & airlines allowing 20 pounds less per bag, crating sounded very good to us!!  And it actually hasn’t been difficult at all.

The truck came and loaded up our stuff today.  Tomorrow we go to their dock to watch how they pack our things.
Our plan is to fly out on April 7th if we can get tickets and if we get Karis’ passport by then.  We should get the passport by early next week, however we gave ourselves some wiggle room in case things didn’t go as planned.
Things are coming together!!

25 March 2009


Well, the BIG day finally came!!!  Today Karis became a US citizen!!  We didn’t actually get to participate in a ceremony.  There was a little mix up in the day, but they decided to give us the certificate since we were there.
Both sets of grandparents joined us as well as our good friends, the Vanns!  We finished up our celebration at the California Pizza Kitchen!

21 March 2009

Looks like we will be on our way back to Prague soon!!

This has been a great, but very long time stateside!!  We've had a great time with family, made some great friends, eaten WAY too much American food. Ha!!  But, it is finally time for us to return.

What was suppose to be a stateside that was 13 months turned into an almost 16 month stateside because of the long and tedious process to make our oldest daughter, Karis a citizen.  Our understanding was that we would not be able to obtain a US passport for Karis without a certificate of citizenship.  So, we were kind of stuck since her Czech passport was expired (their passports for children are only good for one year).

The end date to receive our notice for Karis' certificate of citizenship (CoC) was March 3rd. We made a phone call to inquire about it on March 4th & were told we should get a letter in the mail soon. We waited about a week hoping it would come & decided we would go ahead and make an appointment at the local USCIS office. To even make an appointment to inquire about the process took almost 2 weeks! That appointment FINALLY came this past Thursday!!  But let me back up a little.....

About a week ago, someone we know told us that their daughter had a US passport but not a CoC. Our understanding this whole time based on the passport application & what USCIS was telling us was that we could not get a passport without a CoC. I was finally able to get through to the National Passport Center this past Tuesday (3/17) to find out if this was true & possible without the CoC. They confirmed the documents that we needed to have for them to process, which we had. It was exciting to get this information, but also frustrating that we did not know this sooner!!

So, off we went to apply for a passport on Tuesday. The guy processing our paperwork at the post office also seemed confident that we had everything that we needed & said they would call if they needed something else. We paid to have it expedited. He felt we should have it in 2 weeks or less. So, Tuesday we started making mental plans for our return to Prague on April 7!!!

Thursday, we got up bright & early to head to the USCIS office, dragging Karis out of bed to take with us.  She was a trooper!!  And a plateful of pancakes for her afterwards was quite a bonus!  Ha!!  We happened to get a very nice lady who listened to our case!!! She heard our need to leave the country ASAP. We shared that we are missionaries & needed to get back to work. Her department head was not in the office yet (our appointment was at 7:30 am!!) and promised to call by mid-afternoon. She knew that the next oath ceremony (which is a requirement, even for children) would not be until April 15, but was going to ask if they could make an exception & do it for us sooner. She was a Christian & even stated to us "It's in God's hands & He'll make it happen if it's meant to be!" Amen!!

Well, that call came that afternoon & she informed us that it was approved and we can return to the office next Tuesday (April 24) for Karis to take her oath!!! =) Yay!! That means that we should be able to stick with our departure date of April 7 as long as there are no hang ups with Karis' passport application. Worst case scenario is that they tell us they have to have the CoC and we have to wait a few extra days to get that to them. We'll see!!

This next week is going to be a whirlwind of activities with her ceremony on Tuesday as well as packing up our crate on Thursday & Friday!!

We want to thank you all so much for your prayers & keeping up with us through this whole process!!!

Blessings to all of you!

Tina, Jerry, Karis, Brennan & Reegan Barnwell

16 March 2009

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

We should be enjoying that Spring is right around the corner, but no.  Our house is filled with sickness!!  I thought we were going to escape some of it for this season, but I guess not.  It decides to hit all at once & off and on over several weeks!!
This newest round started last week with Brennan having goopy eyes.  We went to the doctor only to find that it wasn’t just goopy eyes, but an ear infection & a form of pink eye that accompanies the ear infection.  Oh fun!
Karis had a high eosonophil count on her blood test that was done in December.  It either means allergies or parasites or amoebas!!  Great!  It's suggested that Karis do a round of Vermox just in case.  Although our doctor did not think it was elevated enough & really didn’t want to do it.  However, he knew our organization wanted us to do it & kindly obliged. =)  So, two kids on some kind of meds. 
Brennan got better only to get worse again.  A Hep A vaccination for him (a visit to the doctor for mama for a sinus infection) & few days later, he has a temp and complains of bugs in his tummy!!  Wha??  Jerry finally asks some questions, looks at his throat & discovers red spots (w/ a white center) in his mouth.  Back to the doctor for him only to be told it is something viral and not much more he can do since he is already on antibiotics.  Ok.

Long overdue & anxiously awaited we got family pictures done this past Saturday!!!  I can’t wait & am SO excited to take a look at our pictures!!  We also had Jerry’s family join us!!  It’s been forever since they have had pics done & none that included our kiddos.  We had a lot of fun traipsing around Fort Worth to get some good shots.  It was a tad (ok, make that quite a bit) cold!!!!  I had us all decked out in matching duds, but some of the photos are going to include us in coats.  I know, not a big deal.  Karis will be looking like my little Eskimo in some shots with her hood over her head!!  Reegan had already started out the day on the quiet side.  She is typically my quiet one, but seemed to be more so.  By the evening it looked as if her AND Karis were running temps.  Ugh!!  So, we all spent a lazy Sunday morning on the couch.  I hate to miss church, but I know everyone will be grateful that we didn’t expose their kids to whatever we got goin’ on in the Barnwell household!  Reegan ended the day acting pretty normal & Brennan is better.  Karis was the worst of the bunch with a sore throat, fever and not being her active self.  That is until she got a little ice cream in her this afternoon.  She seemed to perk up for awhile there (defiance included =P).


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