Category Archives: Personal Posts

I’m Finally An American Citizen

U.S. Citizenship

 

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US Citizenship

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US Citizenship

I did it! I’m finally an American citizen.

I came to this country when I was only 19 years old. Just a kid who couldn’t wait to get out of her small town in Germany. I had big dreams and hopes. I wanted to see the world, meet new people, explore fascinating cultures.

I did all that and more. I’ve lived in New York, Los Angeles, and Nashville. I went to college, worked, paid taxes, got married (and divorced), and it was here that I gave birth to three incredible American children.

Here I am, twenty-seven years later (oh my!), an American citizen.

For years, I was “only” a permanent resident. I was satisfied with this status. As I got older, the need to “belong” had grown stronger. I no longer felt connected to my home country, but I also wasn’t truly  a part of this country. So I applied, studied for the test, passed my interview and took the oath. Now,  for the first time in my life, I’ll be able to vote.

I was very emotional during the ceremony which I shared with 60 other men and women  from 29 different countries.

My ceremony occurred roughly  five weeks after my interview. The day before my ceremony, my daughter, her husband and our friend surprised me by driving all the way from Chicago to Nashville.  When they showed up I had tears in my eyes. I was so touched by their love and support.  I love them so much and consider myself blessed for having them in my life.

You see, my plan was to attend the ceremony alone (my younger son was in school) and then go about my day as usual. Thanks to my wonderful people, the day turned into a celebration I will never forget.

The ceremony, which took place at the Federal Court House, was a very special event.  As anticipated, the court house had no parking. We parked at a nearby lot. Inside the court house we waited for about 15 minutes before I and 60 other men and women were directed to the courtroom. At this time, friends and family had to wait in the hall way.

They asked each one of us whether we’ve taken any trips outside the U.S. since we had our immigration interview. They also asked if we’ve had any traffic or criminal matters. This was also the moment when we turned in our Green Cards and signed the Certificate of Naturalization. Then, they assigned us to our seats and we were asked not to leave the room anymore. This process took over 1.5 hours.

Next, they brought in family members and friends. You can take photos inside the courtroom – even with a professional camera. However, texting, calling or taking videos is not allowed. 

Now the ceremony was ready to start. A federal judge presided over it, and his  staff helped him arrange things in the courtroom. We said the Pledge of Allegiance. We also went around and introduced ourselves and stated the country we were from. This was probably my favorite part of the ceremony.  I was able to see people from all over the world. I wish I could’ve learned their stories. It was a very exciting moment for all of us.

The person introducing each of us to the judge did a fine job of pronouncing our names as best she could. The judge talked for about five minutes. One thing he said I will always remember: “Today is your personal Independence Day.”

He then administered the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. Everyone raised their right hand as we were sworn in to be citizens. After that, we waited in line for our citizenship certificate, which is a very important original document. I don’t want to ever lose that. The actual ceremony lasted about 45 minutes.

The first thing I did after I became an American citizen was register to vote.

This country has been my home for pretty much my entire adult life. America has nurtured me and I’m proud to call myself a fellow American. Thank you.

A Stress-Free Courthouse Wedding

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Last week, my oldest daughter, Melody, and her now husband, Jamie, said “I do”. The couple married at the Justice of the Peace in Chicago. The ceremony was intimate, inexpensive ($60 instead of a traditional ceremony which is close to $30,000) and stress-free.

They didn’t have to please or impress anyone. They didn’t have to worry about enough seating, wedding favors, plates, flowers, table cards, etc. Melody and Jamie were in and out of the courthouse in 20 minutes and were free to do whatever they wanted. They hired a hobby photographer who followed them around Chicago and shot over 400 photos for just $25. Melody looked beautiful in an inexpensive, simple white dress, while Jamie looked dashing in his light-colored suit.

Instead of fancy flowers and decorations, the focus on love took center stage at this ceremony.

After the ceremony the couple went to a nice restaurant and enjoyed a delicious meal. At a traditional wedding, you’d pay an average of $30 per plate. They also spent the first night as a newlywed couple in a great hotel overlooking Lake Michigan.

Two days after their courthouse wedding, the couple came down to Nashville. Melody’s sister, Christy, and I surprised them with a homemade red velvet cake.weddingChristy also made these cute “NEWLYWED” bracelets.weddingI have to admit, not seeing my first-born get married was hard for me, at first. When your kids are small you have this vision of a beautiful wedding day. Not being able to hear her say “I do” made me sad and I felt cheated out of a celebration, but I’ve realized that at this time in their lives a courthouse wedding made perfect sense. And I respect that they did this on their own terms. After my daughter graduates law school (if she isn’t completely buried in student loan debt ) they might renew their vows in front of family and close friends. It’s on their terms, on their time line…

I know their courthouse wedding will  bring them just as much happiness as the traditional $50K weddings. Because at the end of the day it’s not about that one day… it’s about everything that comes after it.

Congrats, Melody & Jamie! I wish you an amazing and happy life filled with laughter, love and joy.

 

7 (Honest) Reasons I Want to Attend SoFabU on the Road

#SoFabUOTR  #LuvSoFab

#SoFabUOTRSoFabUOTR#SoFabUOTR#SoFabUOTR#SoFabUOTR#SoFabUOTR#SoFabUOTRA few days ago I learned that Social Fabric® is giving away two trips to SoFabU on the Road.

SoFabU on the Road is a unique conference series that allows bloggers to take advantage of face to face educational opportunities to help grow their business.

SoFabU on the Road 2016 provides hands-on, interactive sessions for bloggers to implement what they’re learning on the spot. Attendees will have the unique opportunity to interact with instructors while they work on their site.

The lineup of the SoFabU on the Road events

  • Brooklyn – May 14th
  • Chicago – July 9th
  • Dallas – September 17th
  • LA – Oct 1st

 

This blog post is my entry  to this contest. Because I visit the Social Fabric® website every. single. day.,  I thought it would be fun to make a cake with their logo.

7 (honest) reasons I want to win a trip to #SoFabU on the  Road in Brooklyn, NY

1. I have NEVER attended a blogger conference. All over the internet people talk about how great  blogger conferences are. I bet they are and I’d  LOVE to see for myself.

2. After three years of blogging, I’d love to connect with like-minded people in person. People who get me and what I do. People who don’t get bored talking about blogging.

3. Inspiration is everything and I am sure there’s an abundance of creativity at blogger conferences. Talking and listening to creative people inspires me and boosts my creativity.

4. Education, education, education. I’m dying to learn from experts. I am ready to give my blog and new look – new theme, new fonts, new pictures, colors, etc. I need some direction on how to do all this on my own. I also need to learn more about SEO, Google Analytics, affiliate links, staging for photos, etc.

5. I love working with Social Fabric ® . When I joined, in January 2015, I had no idea which way was up when it came to sponsored posts. My first campaign came in March 2015 and I remember being terrified.  I struggled with such things as “nofollow” links, drafts, google docs, etc. Luckily, everyone at SoFab was extremely kind and helpful. In 2015, I completed 29 campaigns for Social Fabric.

6. I’m going to be honest, it would be great fun to get away for a few days. Being a single mom doesn’t allow for much “me” time. And because my children’s dad lives on the other side of the country, I truly am a single parent 24/7. This trip would give me an opportunity to re-energize.

7. My tight budget simply does not allow for travel and blogging conference tickets. As much as I would love to do these things,  it’s just not possible.

 

 

Even if I don’t win I want to thank Social Fabric ® for giving a “small” blogger the opportunity to grow, learn, and earn income through so many fun campaigns.

 

About the cake:

My go-to chocolate cake recipe for the past 20 years has been  HERSHEY’S “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake. It never disappoints!