Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Anna's first week home...

It is hard to believe it has been a week since Anna arrived to her new home here in America. Anna has had a very busy week getting settled in her new home. After spending three days traveling and staying awake for over 24 hours straight, Anna and the children were completely exhausted when we finally came home. They spent most of the first day trying to catch up on sleep after they arrived.
But it was not long before Anna and the children regained their strength and began finding places for their things in their new home. Anna also began the process of converting my bachelor pad into a home that everyone can become comfortable living in. She spent many hours deep cleaning things that I have overlooked over the past few years. We also spent many hours shopping to replace the T.V. dinners, Ramen Noodles and Macaroni and cheese with food that actually contains something more than just artificial flavoring, artificial coloring mixed with salt. I can't say that I have ever been much of a cook so those meals have always been my specialty.
To my credit, I did make a failed attempt to help her clean house but I think I was less helpful and was more in her way of getting things accomplished so on Thursday we decided it would be best if I took the children to the river for a few hours.
We had a great time. I took them to Eagle Island State park and we enjoyed our time together swimming in the cold water on the hot summer day. While we were there, my friend Alan Dein with BBC Radio in London called me for another brief interview to find out how things were going. Hopefully you will be able to hear our conversation soon. Alan has told me that he has recorded every conversation and he hopes to have our story on the air in London soon. After that it should be available on podcast from his website.
But now our cupboards are full of food that actually has nutritional value and my sons and I are eating better now than we have in a long time. Not to mention the house is cleaner than it has been in years and slowly but surely we are all bonding together as a family.
And of course every day is brighter with Anna by my side. Now we must begin planning the wedding. Time is moving very quickly now and we need to set a date for the wedding. If anyone knows someone who is good at planning weddings and is looking to get their name out there. Please feel free to email us or leave a comment. We are looking for people and/or companies that are willing to help us plan this event for advertising on our blog because to be honest we don't have much of a budget for the wedding We are saving as much money as possible because we will be required to pay a significant amount of money to immigration services immediately after the wedding to get Anna and her children their Adjustment of Status which will give them their green cards enabling Anna to go to work if she desires and allowing the children to attend school here. If anyone ever tries telling you immigration is cheap, they are lying through their teeth. Both Anna and I have payed a lot of money just to get her here.
So please let us know if you or someone you know may be interested in offering their services. You can email us at annabryan1955@gmail.com or post a comment. Thanks.
Here are a few pictures I have taken. Hopefully we will get more soon.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Anna is Finally home!!!

Yesterday after spending 8 hours driving to Seattle and almost 4 hours waiting at the SeaTac international airport Anna's flight arrived. I was not completely sure she was even going to be on the flight because I had not spoke with her since she left her hometown to board the bus with the two children to Moscow.
My 9 year old son went with me because he was anxious to meet Anna and the children. I also spent over an hour on my phone talking over Skype with Alan Dein with the BBC4 Radio Network so he could record the event for a future episode of "Don't Log Off". In fact he captured audio of the moment I saw Anna for the first time after her arrival and he was even able to speak briefly to Anna as we walked to the Baggage Claim. I wanted to get video of the event but everything happened so quickly I was unable get any pictures or video of her arrival. I had to quickly end my conversation with Alan and immediately attend to Anna's luggage.
Hopefully you will hear much of our conversation on a future episode of Don't Log Off. Alan seems to have big plans for this episode. In fact he has almost 4 hours of conversation to build the entire story from.
After leaving the airport, my original plan was to get a hotel and stay around Seattle before the long drive home but Anna and the children were eager to get to their new home. I can't blame them. They spent over 3 days traveling with very little sleep.
Needless to say we came home at 8:30 this morning and spent many hours trying to catch up on sleep. In fact Anna and the children are still sound asleep as I am making this blog entry. Hopefully we will be able to get some pictures taken together in the next few days so we can share them with our readers.
The next thing that Anna and I will need to do is start to plan our wedding. We have 90 days from July 23rd to get married so she can stay here. Unfortunately we don't have a big budget so we will try to do what we can with what we have. We may even try to find some companies to sponsor products or services for our wedding in exchange for a full blog entry dedicated to advertising their products and services. So if you know anyone in the business of providing wedding supplies and/or services, please have them contact us at annabryan1955@gmail.com or you can submit a comment or suggestion directly on our blog.
Thanks for reading. Your comments and suggestions are welcome (Just don't try to criticize my writing skills because I already know they are terrible :)).

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Last Day

Today passed by like a blur for me. I could hardly focus on my job as I anticipated Anna's arrival and the trip to Seattle tomorrow. Not to mention I spent the day worrying about Anna and the children. I have not heard anything from her since she was preparing to leave for Moscow. I tried calling her on the phone but her phone doesn't appear to be working.
Last time we spoke she was hoping to find a place with internet access so she could send me a message on Skype and letting me know they are alright. But she must not be able to find a place because I haven't heard from her yet. I will try calling again when I know she will be at the airport. Hopefully her phone will start working again before she leaves. It would be nice to be know she is safe and on schedule. If I don't hear from her today I will have to call Aeroflot Airlines tomorrow to verify she was on the plane.
Today I had another interview from BBC 4 Radio in London. This time I spoke with Alan Dein's producer
Laurence Grissell. They are very interested in our story and he promised to have Alan call again in a few days after Anna is here.
Now I am getting things packed and ready for the trip. Tomorrow, first thing in the morning, my younger son and I will be going to pick up a rental car. He has been looking forward to meeting Anna and the children and he wanted to go with me tomorrow. We need to pick the car up at 8:00 and take the 8 hour drive to pick her up. I only hope I can sleep tonight. Only one day to go until Anna is here!
I don't know if I will have the time to send a blog entry tomorrow before I leave so if you want to stay updated you can follow me @privetanna on twitter.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

She's on her way!!!

Today Anna had to wake up very early because she and the two children had to take a taxi to the bus stop first thing in the morning.
Carrying three bulging suitcases, Anna and the two children left the only home they have known to begin the three day journey to come here. I can't even begin to imagine the apprehension she feels right now leaving the only life she has ever known to come start a new life with me in America.
Currently Anna and the children are on their way to Moscow on a bus. They are probably roughly halfway there right now. They will spend a day in Moscow before heading to the airport late in the evening on Monday. Anna didn't want to take any chances and decided it would be better to spend the night at the airport so they won't stand the chance of missing their flight that leaves Moscow at 10:15 on Tuesday morning. It is better safe than sorry.
Meanwhile, I am continuing to get the house ready for their arrival. Today I made reservations to rent a car so I can drive to Seattle to pick her up. I will pick the car up on Tuesday morning at 8:00 A.M. and begin the 8 hour drive from Boise to Seattle to pick her up and finally take her home. Her flight arrives just before 10:00 P.M. at the Seattle airport. I plan to meet her just as she exits customs and take her home from there. We will probably stop at a hotel on the way home to try to get some sleep before the 8 hour drive because I am sure they will be very tired after the long flight here.
In only 3 short days Anna will be here! I can't wait!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Six more days of the Final Countdown.

Today was a very busy day for Anna. She continued to pack her bags and cleaned house. She needs to do a deep cleaning of the house because her mother will be selling the house when she leaves.
As if that is not enough, Anna  had to file legal documents to delegate power of attorney to a good friend so she can take care of a few legal matters after Anna leaves. Then she had get some documents translated.
After that she had to stop by the bank to deal with money issues.
She is also searching for a padlock so that she can hang the lock on a bridge in her hometown. It is customary in Russia for couples to write their names on them and hang them on various bridges among other places. In fact there is a iron trees over a bridge in Moscow that are almost completely made up of "love locks". I took a picture of Anna standing next to them while I was there.

Anna has promised to hang our lock on a bridge near her house. On one side it will say "Bryan Loves Anna!" and on the other it will say "Hello Anna!". It will be written in Russian. She told me she will take a picture of it for me after she attaches it permanently to bridge. Then she will throw the key into the lake. I will be sure to put a picture on the blog after I get it from Anna.
Needless to say Anna was very tired when we spoke and the lack of sleep has not been helping her. We both have had difficulty getting a good nights sleep the past few weeks. We are both very nervous. Both of our lives are changing very rapidly  and it is hard for us to keep up with everything.
While Anna is busy working doing all those things I am very busy writing this blog. It is a difficult job but someone has to do it. But to my credit I am also working on installing laminate flooring in one of the spare bedrooms. I want to be done with it before Anna arrives. There is so much to do and so little time. It's almost hard to believe she will be here in six days.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Day 8 of the Final Countdown to Anna's arrival.

Today I was able to schedule some time off of work so I can take two weeks vacation for when Anna comes here. Fortunately I have a good boss who was very flexible on such short notice. I have a great job and my boss is not half as bad as everyone else says he is. :) In fact I have excellent coworkers. I couldn't ask for a better group of people to work with.
Me and my two children are still working on getting the house ready while Anna continues to pack things and trying to gather all the documents she will need when she gets here.
Tomorrow is her last day at work so she will be having a go away party at the office. Hopefully she will not need to work a full day because Anna is expecting her mother to come stay with her in the afternoon. She will spend the next few days with Anna helping her pack things and help Anna with the children. She will also see Anna off to the airport on Tuesday to say goodbye.
The next few days will be very busy for Anna and I as . Tomorrow I will try to reserve a rental car. I decided I will rent a car. Purchasing additional plane tickets was too expensive and my friend was unable to transport us in his plane on that day because he had prior engagements so renting a car was the only option I had left because I don't want to drive my car that distance without getting new brakes installed.
I plan to leave early on Tuesday so I have plenty of time to reach Seattle before Anna's flight arrives. Then we plan on renting a hotel and driving back the following morning because I am sure Anna and the children will be very tired after spending over 24 hours on a plane or in an airport. We may even be able to do some sight seeing on the way home.
Time is passing quickly now and tomorrow will be seven more days until she crosses the threshold of her new home. I can't wait!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Final Countdown... 9 days until Anna is here!

Today Anna told me some great news. She finally received her passport with the visas.  It was a big relief because both Anna and I have been concerned that her passport would get delayed and we would need to change the reservations. Not to mention it would have cost an additonal $600.00 to make any changes in the schedule. So fortunately we are on schedule and she will be flying out of Moscow early in the morning on Tuesday the 23rd.
Now it is just a matter of Anna tying up all the loose ends before she leaves. There seems to be an endless number of things she needs to do before she leaves. Unfortunately she doesn't have a lot of spare time. She is still working full time and her last day will be Wednesday.
Today she was able to order the transcripts from the schools her children have been attending so we can have them when we are ready to get them registered for school. She has also spent a lot of her time packing things. Unfortunately she won't be able to take everything with her on the plane so she is trying to prepare some packages to mail ahead of her.
We are both very excited that we have overcome the final hurdle. Now we know there are no other obstacles that stand between us and Anna and I finally have a definite timeframe.
We are down to nine days before she arrives to her new home.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

It's the Final Countdown... 10 days until Anna is Here.

This weekend has been very busy for Anna and I. Anna was exhausted after she had spent all day packing her suitcases. She is having a difficult time trying to decide what she should take with her. It is sad that she cannot take everything with her. She is leaving so many things behind because all she can take is 3 suitcases and a few carry on bags.
I can't imagine how difficult it must be for Anna to be forced to pick and choose between the things that she has accumulated over the years. I am sure many things are very sentimental to her. She has a long history there that will come to an end on July 23rd when she will begin her new life in America. She is moving away from her mother, sister and other relatives that she  has spent her entire life with.
This is a very stressful time for Anna. Two years ago she would have never considered leaving Russia and now she is leaving the only home that she has known in all her life to come to start a new life in a strange place surrounded by strangers that don't speak her language. Even though she has spent many hours practicing her English she will still have difficulty communicating with people. I can't even begin to even try to imagine the anxiety she is experiencing right now with the anticipation of the uncertain future. I just hope she will take some comfort knowing she will have a neighbor that speaks Russian.
Meanwhile, I have been busy preparing the house for Anna and the children. I have been trying to keep the house clean and finish some projects that I have been working on. Today I worked on one of the spare bedrooms installing a new floor that I started working on 3 years ago and never finished. Hopefully I will be done within the next few days so that I can get it furnished. I am hoping that I can have it completely furnished by the time they arrive. Maybe my friends at the Main Street Auction will have some good deals next weekend because I will need some bed frames and dressers for their bedrooms. I really want to have it done by the time she arrives. Today my good friend Bob took me to Costco and purchased some new mattresses for the children as a wedding gift to us. Thank you Bob!
It is interesting to look back over the past two years and see how much our lives have changed. Both our lives changed considerably when we met on Badoo in September of 2011. Neither Anna or I could have ever imagined all of this. All I know is that after I met Anna, my life has not been the same. All the goals I had set in life became irrelevant and replaced with new goals starting with spending the rest of my life with Anna.
She has inspired me in so many ways. I never knew I was a poet until she inspired me to write 26 pages of poetry in a poem called "The Never Ending letter". She has also inspired this blog. "Hello Anna!" is gaining a lot of attention worldwide. I once told Anna that I would stand on the roof and announce to the whole world how much I love her. This blog is my rooftop and I stand up on it and shout it loudly.
Tomorrow will be nine days until Anna finally comes home. Provided that the passport comes in time. We have our fingers crossed.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Getting down to the wire...

Today after some minor difficulty with www.expedia.com and my bank, I was able to make the flight reservations for Anna and the children. With Anna's passport due to arrive next week, we decided I would book the flights for them.
It was very difficult to find prices that we could afford on our budget. We searched various websites, some in Russia. In fact last week Anna had found the best prices online on a  Russian website so I was prepared to wire her some money to purchase the tickets. But the next day the tickets were no longer available.
It was difficult to find a flight with only one stop at a price we could afford. Anna did not want to have more than one stop. Can you blame her? I can't. It will be difficult enough for her to drag her two children halfway across the world in 24 hours.
Finally I was able to find some tickets that we could afford through Expedia using Aeroflot-Russian Airlines. With her current reservation her flight leaves Russia on July 23rd. It leaves early Tuesday morning from Moscow and has a five hour layover in New York before she leaves for her final destination in Seattle. When all was said and done it cost me almost $3,000.00 for their tickets.
I just hope her passport arrives in time or I will have to pay an additional $200.00 per ticket to make any reservation changes. So we are hoping the passport arrives early next week.
Now, while Anna tries to tie up any loose ends in Russia, I need to make additional arrangements to meet her and the children at the airport in Seattle when she flies in. I am having difficulty deciding what to do. I don't really want to take my car for that long drive so I am trying to decide whether I should rent a car for the drive there and back or I could fly there and rent a car to drive back. My friend has offered to fly me in his private airplane there and fly us all back. But it really depends on the weather in Seattle on that day. I am considering taking him up on his offer and renting a car just in case the weather turns out to be bad. But I have not decided yet. I need to decide soon though because she will be here in 11 days. After all the waiting we had to go through over the past year, time seems to be passing quickly now. In fact it is moving faster than Anna and I were prepared for. We had originally hoped to get a flight a little later in the month to give Anna more time to take care of things but there were no tickets within our price range through the end of the month. We had to take what we could get.
Needless to say, Anna and I will be very busy within the next couple of weeks. I will be busy preparing the house for their arrival while Anna packs up everything she has to come here. We can't wait for it all to be over. It has been exhausting for both Anna and I.
Please feel free to comment.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Another interview with Alan Dein

Today after I spoke with Anna, I spoke once again to Alan Dein with the BBC 4 radio network in London for an upcoming episode of "Don't Log Off". It was the third time I had spoken with him.  The last time we spoke was almost six months ago. You can listen to one of our brief conversations on an episode titled "Hopes and Dreams" on his website.
Today we spoke for about 30 minutes and had a good conversation. He is very interested in our story. He asked me many questions about my ongoing relationship with Anna and our future plans. I told him about our experiences during this long drawn out process that Anna and I have had to go through. I also told him our plans for the future. He seemed surprised to learn that she will be coming here so soon. He told me to keep him up to date with the latest news and he is looking forward to talking to Anna and I after she arrives.
Hopefully you will be able to hear some of our conversation in a future episode of Don't Log Off.
Things are happening fairly quickly now and we expect Anna to get her passport back from the US Embassy in Moscow with the visas inside. Yesterday she called the Embassy and they told her that they were still "processing" (I have really grown to hate that word) the visas but today she received an email from the embassy saying "Your visa is in final processing. If you have not received it in more than 10 working days, please see the webpage for contact information of the embassy or consulate where you submitted your application.". We hope this means that she will receive her passport within the next week.
We are already getting prices for 3 plane tickets from Russia to Seattle and we are considering having her and the children here before the end of the month. The prices for tickets seem to be going up every day so the sooner she gets the passport the less it will cost us. At least I hope...
Both Anna and I are very excited and everything seems so surreal for us. We are both finding it difficult to believe that this is finally happening . It is happening fast too.  Anna still has a lot to do there in Russia and we are hoping she will be here within 3 weeks. There seems to be too much to do and too little time to do it for Anna especially.
Our waiting period will soon come to an end and we will finally be able to begin our new lives together. It has been a long, drawn out process and we are looking forward to it coming to an end.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Home Sweet Home

Finally after almost four long days in Moscow followed by a twelve hour bus ride, Anna returned home. It had been four very long days and I could not communicate with her.
I did manage to talk to her once on the phone. I could not understand most of what she said but she told me she was okay and told me the children said hi. We spoke very briefly before ending our conversation. I was glad to know her and the children were okay. I was getting so worried.
I was very surprised to get her call on Skype. I was expecting her to be home a day later. I thought she had told me her interview was on July 2nd but she had it on the first of July.
I was playing pool inside my garage with a friend when I received her call. I had to apologize to him as I sent him quickly home.
I was so excited to see her. It felt like an eternity since I had seen her.
She was very tired after the long bus ride. She told me that she and the children had done a lot of walking around the city. She also told me they had difficulty sleeping in the hotel room because the bed creaked.
Then she proceeded to tell me about the interview. The interview was 4 hours long and there were nearly 400 people in the embassy at the same time. The person conducting the interview asked her many about us. They asked about how we met and where we met. They asked her questions about me. She was also asked why she wanted to marry an American man and why she thought I wanted to marry a Russian woman. She told them that she asked me this question, but didn't receive a definite answer. I told her that I had no choice but to find her in Russia. If Anna lived in Africa, I would have went there. If she was from Australia I would have met her there. In fact Russia is the only place in this world I could have found Anna. I think I told her this once before but she may have forgotten.
We are both very excited. Now all we need to do is wait for her to receive the visas and schedule her flight home. She still has many things to do before she can leave. There is a lot of packing that she needs to do among many other things that have to be done before she can leave.
Now we are trying to find affordable plane tickets for her and the children and we are trying to decide if she should fly into Boise or if I should go to meet her in Seattle. I have a friend who may be able to fly me there in his private plane to meet her at the Seattle Airport. Then Anna and the children can fly with us back home.
We are still exploring all the options and trying to work out all the details. If you have a suggestion, please feel free to comment.