Sunday, September 20, 2009


When we landed at Dulles back in November 2008 we took a picture to commemorate Nikolai becoming a citizen. Since then we have been struggling with USCIS to get them to acknowledge that Nik is a citizen rather than a permanent resident and to get a Certificate of Citizenship. Several USCIS officers told us various things and promised the mistake would be fixed – with no action other than to confiscate the Permanent Resident Card so that we have almost nothing to prove that Nik is even here legally.

So we enlisted the help of our senator – who got an answer from USCIS the next day after contacting them! Our file and related documents have essentially been archived and there is no hope of fixing the mistake in the ways the USCIS officers assured us would work. Rather we need to submit the N-600 and supporting documents. This is not a big deal and it would have been a lot simpler if USCIS had just told us this back in January. Because of all the hassle, our senator’s representative will be hand delivering our application to the congressional liaison to USCIS, who will be hand delivering the application to USCIS headquarters and requesting they waive the fee. Whether we have to pay or not, I am finally feeling confident that this will be resolved. The senator’s office also told us she could arrange for us to go in person and apply for a passport without having to turn in Nik’s Kaz passport (which contains the IR-3 visa and the only proof of his immigration status we have).

We heard from the senator’s representative today and need to get the N-600 packet to her tomorrow. Since we first thought we might have to submit this application back in January, the passport-type photos that we had of Nikolai were way too old to use. So I attempted to take a quick digital picture that would work. I found the series of resultant photos funny:

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


This weekend we went up to Chris’s mom’s farm to camp with a bunch of friends from college. We first got together in 1997 and have only missed a few years (including last year since we were in Kazakhstan!). What started out as a bunch of recent graduates drinking beer and playing board/card games has turned into a big family weekend. Adults still barely outnumbered the kids – by one. All of the requisite Crowlstock activities took place: horseshoes, camping, a huge fire followed by smores, games, and a trip to the corn maze. Nikolai loved the weekend since he was entertained by the other kids and the grandparents, he had unlimited access to whole peaches, and he got to be “out si” almost the whole weekend. We had him sleep in his new peapod bed in the tent since it is all we are bringing on our upcoming trip to the southwest. He woke up several times the first night, but slept better the second night.

It was great to see everyone!

Helping prepare the fire pit

In the "girls' tent" - after being invited since he "is just a baby"


A crowded sand box

The grandparents and I escaped to do a little tasting at a local winery