Tuesday, April 26, 2016

29th Annual Blessing of the Fleet

After being in Mount Pleasant, SC for over 4 years, we have finally gone to the 29th Annual Blessing of the Fleet & Seafood Festival. It was really cool to see all of the shrimp boats, and other people out on the Cooper River in their boats, of varying size and speed. Here are some of the photos I took. (They are all in my Flickr album which can be found here)

29th Annual Blessing of the Fleet

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Vice Principals

A perk of being in the US is that I get opportunities like this.

Last year I spent several months working as an extra/background actor on a tv show for HBO that was being filmed in Charleston, SC.

The show is called Vice Principals, was written by Danny McBride, and it will be on HBO in July.
This is a teaser trailer for it.






Thursday, February 4, 2016

Being a Grown Up

We owned a house in the UK up until a couple weeks ago. We finally sold it and will soon, all being well, be in a position to buy somewhere here in South Carolina. Of course, with selling a property, you have to deal with the tax implications. Being an expat we have to deal with the tax implications in the UK and here in the US. I discovered by chance that we have to inform HMRC within 30 days of selling the house or we can be fined. Luckily there is an online form we can submit ahead of doing our actual self assessment tax return later in the year. We have to inform them separately because we owned it jointly and sold it jointly. We have to work out what, if any, Capital Gains Tax we have to pay here and there. Luckily we can defer payment of the UK CGT until the end of January 2017, which as luck would have it coincides with our tax return for the US in which we have to declare the sale. I have looked for information regarding the US aspect of CGT and I have to say, I have done more fun things. If we have already paid CGT in the UK do we need to pay it again in the US? Is there a tax treaty between the countries where you don't pay tax twice on the same thing? We are seeing a tax expert in the next few days. Hopefully they will be able to shed some light on it for us. Then after sorting out the tax stuff, we get to delve into the world of mortgages and being first time buyers in the US. (We are first time buyers in the US but not globally. When we buy a house here it will be our 3rd home purchase) Taxes. Mortgages. I never agreed to any of this when I became a grown up.

Of course, one benefit of selling our UK house is that after this tax return, I will never have to do another one in the UK, ever again. Unless of course I return to live there, and that is not happening, unless I am dragged kicking and screaming.


Monday, January 4, 2016

It's A New Year. First Post of 2016.

The trifle I made at Christmas.
It is 2016.

Holy crap! How did that happen? (I know how it happened, I'm just amazed it is 2016 already)

So, this is going to be a good year. It will.

This year I turn 40. Honestly that is a good thing. Doctors told my parents I'd be dead by Christmas 1976. I plan on having a blow-out in Vegas and getting absolutely blotto with a group of girlfriends.

Before I turn 40 I have 4 things I want to learn.

1: Learn to knit. I am getting on with it, slowly. I have been following these YouTube videos.

2: Learn to dance. The husband has offered to learn with me, I just have to choose what dance I want to learn. I have found a dance school in town and I am going to check them out.

Eddie Izzard after his show in Charleston last month.

3: Learn sign language. I found a course at a local community college, but there is a pre-requisite that I'd need to meet before joining the ASL class. There are loads of online courses though that I think I will have a go at first.

4: Learn to surf. I have found a place that does lessons, and guarantees to get you standing up on a surf board, and I plan on learning after Memorial Day.

My eldest child, Z, turns 13 this year too. His little sister K, starts middle school after the summer break. I may be a wreck by mid October.

In less than 2 weeks it will be the 1 year anniversary of us getting our greencards. I wrote about it here. (I was slightly excited)

We bought some holiday chocolates.
They're all gone now.
In October 2019 I can start the process to get US citizenship and I 100% plan on doing that. I will not give up my British citizenship but simply gain American citizenship.

This year it looks like I will also become self-employed. The husband has declared that he thinks I would be a good social media consultant. He has said he will build me a website. All I need to do is: think of a name for the company (one that is also available on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and url, write copy for said website, and do a plethora of online courses in Twitter for Business, Facebook for Business, Social Media Marketing with Twitter and Facebook, Advertising on Twitter, Facebook Advertising Fundamentals, Advanced Facebook Advertising, Online Marketing Fundamentals, and Building an Integrated Online Marketing Plan.

This is where I do most of my 10k steps.
I am also, again, hoping to lose weight. I rejoined weightwatchers. I lost over 50 lbs when I did it in the UK, so theoretically I should be able to do it again. I got a Fitbit for Christmas so I'm making a real effort to make sure I hit 10, 000 steps a day. I've managed it for pretty much every day since Christmas.

We should, in the next week or so, finally close on the sale of our house in the UK.  It has been dragging on and I am seriously starting to get irritated by the whole thing. I have come close to saying "screw it, put it back on the market" several times to the real estate agent. Once it does sell we will hopefully be able to buy a house in town and settle properly.

This is one of those boring posts that I have no photos for. Maybe I will just add a couple random ones. Yeah, there you go. There's some photos.


Friday, October 16, 2015

They Hide Them

You may be wondering, "hide what exactly"? Well, as a British Expat in the US, after a while you discover which shops sell British goodies, specifically food. Usually the store will have an international/ethnic aisle and that is where all of the British food will be. Sometimes however, the store will have a British aisle but it will also place British food/sweets around the store intermingled in with American foods.


Here is an example. This afternoon I went out to Southern Season and took these photos. I went to the British aisle where I took the first photo but I then wandered around the store for a little while and discovered little gems hidden in other places. I ended up buying a couple chocolate bars and a pack of Jaffa Cakes.

So, next time you are in a food store that sells British food, look around a bit and you may find other goodies.













Tuesday, September 15, 2015

What Next?

What should this Brit living in the USA post about next about living in the USA?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Summer,....is hot,....and long,....really, really long.

We are approaching the halfway point between my kids finishing their last year of school and them starting their next year of school. From their last day in 4th and 5th grade to their last day of summer break before starting 5th and 6th grade, they have 75 days of summer break. 10 weeks and 5 days, or 2 months 14 days off school. I recall feeling my summer break was too long when I was a kid and I only got 6 weeks off. I think my mother would have lost her mind if I had had a summer break as long as my kids have. I guess I can sort of understand why they do it. When the days are normally in the mid 90s to low 100s fahrenheit throughout the months of June, July and August, you don't really want kids sitting around in class. The cost of running the a/c in schools would probably be astronomical. Plus there are so many summer camps around that parents, if they can afford it, can send their kiddos to day camp, week long sleepaway camp or even a month long sleepaway camp. My 2 have not had to go away to camp, yet. Mainly because I have not been working hours or days that would necessitate it. That could change though. Next summer I could be working and it may make sense to send both of them to summer camps. I am sure it would go down like a lead balloon but they will just have to suck it up. I was just saying to Z that even though he will be in middle school this coming school year, it does not mean that I would want him home alone all day if I needed to be at work, and his dad could not work from home. I am already considering the fact that we will probably need to buy him a cell phone as middle school starts and finishes at a different time to elementary school so if I am dropping off or picking up his sister from somewhere, I would like him to be able to let me know if he is on way home, or at home already. His father and I have cell phones already and, like a lot of other families, we do not have a landline. So if me or his dad are not home then he would have no way of contacting us. I guess the fact that Z is almost 12, and as a result he is a pre-teen, meaning he is going to be an actual teenager very soon, he is going to get a cell phone whether I am ready for him to have one or not!

The summer break so far has been good though. We went back to the old country, we have bought a new car (swapped out our Toyota for a Chevrolet, so we still only have 1 car), the small blonde one has been to sleepovers and 'playdates' with her friends, we have been to the beach and all of us have gotten sunburn, we have been ploughing through the summer reading requirements for school and we have got together with friends (the grown up kind) and had drinks. We still have the ladybug release to come, buying school supplies, taking kids to their respective schools to pay fees, find out teachers/schedules, get photos take for id and yearbook. Meanwhile I am still working on the set of that HBO show I mentioned before. I am also still applying for regular jobs. Although I have discovered that Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence will be filming a movie in Atlanta soon and I may put myself forward for being an extra for that. Just for a giggle.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Continuing the Adventure. I am working! Sort of.

We have been in the US for 5 1/2 years and green card holders for almost 6 months. I have had work authorisation since August 2014 and 3 weeks ago I did my first ever day of paid employment. I spent close to 12 hours on the set of a television show. A new HBO show called Vice Principals is being filmed in the Charleston area and I signed up to be an extra. I worked each of the first 3 Sundays of May and I will be working again this coming Friday on an overnight shoot. The pay is not brilliant, but I am not really doing it for the money. Don't get me wrong, it is nice to be earning money in my own right, but I honestly am doing it for the experience of working and seeing a television show being made. It truly does take a village. The wardrobe guy reminds me of J.J. Abrams. One of the props guys reminds me of Andrew Scott (played Moriarty in the BBC Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch). If I am totally honest I had never really heard of Danny McBride, the writer and star of the show, but it seems I had seen a few films he had been in.

It is not going to be on tv until about September 2016 so it'll be a while before my 'blink and you miss me' moment.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sun, Horses & Free Beer


Living here means we get to see things in person that we would most likely only get to see on television.


The Budweiser Clydesdales are traveling the country and they have been in the Charleston area over the last few days. They were at Patriots Point yesterday but it was chucking it down with rain and thoroughly miserable. We stayed home and watched Marvel movies instead in preparation for watching Avengers: Age of Ultron next weekend.


Today was a glorious day. Blue skies. Sun shining. Temperatures
nearing 90F. So, we went out to Daniel Island to see the Clydesdales as they were doing a parade and delivering cases of Budweiser to businesses along the route. They were giving away free drinks (water, coke, diet coke, Budweiser, Bud Light) and kettle corn. I found out the kettle corn was free after K ran off towards the stand to find out how much it was and came back with a big bag of it saying "it is free!"


The horses were taken out of their air-conditioned trucks and
hitched up to the wagon. They were all very calm despite being surrounded by loads of people. I wanted to go and see them because I like the commercials that are on tv around Christmas and the Super Bowl.

All of the photos I have uploaded of the Clydesdales to Flickr, can be found here.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Time for a Name Change?



No, I am not going to change my name. I am considering either changing the name of this here blog or, alternatively, creating a whole new blog. The primary reason for that is simply down to the fact that in just under 5 years we can start the process to become American citizens. This blog is about being a British Expat in the US and the "adventures" we get up to and how we adjust to living here being foreign. We are still foreign but will soon be citizens. We are at the start of becoming Americans. I think I would like to document the process. Don't get me wrong I will still be British. I will still be very proud to be British. (It is quite a process you have to go through to officially renounce your British citizenship). However, I love living here and I will be very proud the day I can also call myself an American. I have already had a letter from the President, did I tell you that already?  I would very much like to be able to vote for a President. All being well that will be in the 2020 Presidential election.




Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Banking Makes Me Feel Old

That was banking, with a b.

When I was a kid I had my first ever bank account, a Young Saver account, with TSB. I could
withdraw my money any time I wanted to, as long as the branch was open. Actually, thinking about it, I don't think I ever actually closed that account. It probably had about 57p in it and has long since been shut down by the bank themselves.

Anyway, now that we have our green cards, yay, I feel it is time to close the kids savings accounts that they have in the UK. No point having money in a country that is theirs and they can't get to it. When I left the UK I put my mother in law in control of it so she could deposit money and receive their annual statements etc. So, I am going to ask her to close the accounts, note how much Z has an how much K has, and transfer the money over to the US. Today I decided to make inquiries at 2 banks here in Mount Pleasant to see what facilities they have for children's savings/money. As I had to go to my bank to deposit a check my dad sent K for her birthday I decided to start there. (My dad always sends a British cheque made out to me for both kids birthdays and Christmas)

So, Bank of America have Student Banking: Checking and Savings. That's right, your child can have their own debit card and checkbook! I actually asked the woman to clarify that a 10 year old and a 12 year old could have a debit card and check book. It turns out yes they can! She said obviously you could have the majority of their money in their savings accounts and say $50 in their checking accounts. That way they, and me, can monitor their spending and buy things with their own debit card. I will admit I thought kids that were not even teenagers yet would only get an ATM card. The minimum to open it is $25 and all I need to open it is their SSN and my drivers license. 

I then decided to try a Credit Union. South Carolina Federal Credit Union offer Kids Savings.  You
need a qualifying parent to open the account, you can only withdraw 3 times a month and you need to go into the branch, but you only need $5 to open it. A downside with the credit union is that they take weeks, usually around 6, to clear a foreign check. With BoA I can access money the next business day. As we get checks for birthdays and Christmas it would not go down well telling the kids they need to wait almost 2 months to access their gift. 

There are other credit unions in Mount Pleasant, and there are loads of other banks. For ease of opening either BoA and SC Federal would be the top 2 picks. I will check out the other banks and see what they offer. I know my kids are growing and they need to learn skills and how to manage their own money. They need to learn how to save and budget themselves. However, it still makes me feel bloody old! The mere thought of my 10 and almost 12 year olds with their own check book and debit card. I am now going to state the obvious, there is not a chance in hell I would let them write any checks as pre-teens!

If we are going to properly settle here in the US, we need to have all our stuff here and that includes the kids. We also plan to sell our house in the UK and buy somewhere here. That in itself will be a logistical nightmare, selling a house in the UK while living in the US. No, there won't be any problems at all doing that will there?! I think I need to go have a lie down.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

APPROVED!

WE’VE GOT OUR GREEN CARDS!!!!  

Good things come to those who wait….and don’t give up….and are as stubborn as a mule! (That would be me) 

I have been banging on about wanting this to happen since I was a teenager. It has taken a LONG time to get to this stage. There have been loads of people who have helped us, and a couple people who did not help. So many forms which have had to be completed. So many documents have had to be collected, or notarized, or verified, or have equivalency tests done on them. 



Combined I have had close to 90 texts or emails from USCIS. To go from enjoying living here but with the nagging worry that it could all come to a crashing halt, to now just being able to enjoy living here, is a wonderful feeling. Now we are done with USCIS, well, until we need to replace the kids green cards when they turn 14, and then again when we apply for citizenship. I’m not sure what to do with myself now that I no longer need to check our case status online 900 times a day, and spend time going through various websites looking for information that could help our case. Guess I should get a job…...

But of course before I do that, I think we need to have a party.


Plus, I can now start the 5 year countdown to citizenship. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Another Road Trip



Since we arrived in the US we have made a point of traveling and seeing as much of it as possible. After all, until we have the green cards in our hands, we have no idea how long we will be here. Plus traveling places in the US from the US is a lot cheaper than doing it from the UK!
This past weekend for example we drove to Florida and visited Jacksonville and Tallahassee.

We went to the beach in Jacksonville and then to the Tallahassee Museum. (Ben built their website). 

There is still a lot of the US left to visit and hopefully we will travel during the year.
A drive in the car for a few hours is cheaper than flying, and not too stressful when the kids have something to occupy themselves.

(In our case Z & K entertained themselves watching movies on the iPad and reading magazines).

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Still Here

Hello.

I am still here. By here, I mean America. I am still in America.

I have not posted anything on this blog since April 2014. It has been a while. Of course I am not entirely sure that anyone has noticed the lack of posts.

If anyone is interested in what I write here and would like me to continue, please comment.

I started this as a way to keep family in the know about what we were doing here. Unfortunately they didn't read it.

I have posted the odd thing on my Facebook page every now and then.

Basically since April the following has happened.

I went to Comic Con again.
Our greencard application was submitted.
I got my work authorization.
Z started learning to play violin.
K started singing in the school chorus.
We went to New York City for a weekend break.
I won 2 cool prizes from Virgin Atlantic.
Our greencard application stalled as we got an RFE.

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