Sunday, September 29, 2013

What's next for Hello Anna...

People, including Anna are curious and are asking me What is going to happen next. 
The truth is, I don't know what the future holds. All I do know is that this is not the end. This is only just the beginning. The future is filled with endless possibilities and opportunities for us. Neither of us knows what the future has in store for us.
The next few weeks will be very busy for us as we begin the process of filing with our favorite government organization, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service(USCIS) for an adjustment of status aka "green cards" for Anna and the children. 
Their visas expire on October 20th and even though we are married now, the Federal Government requires that we file for their green cards before the expiration of their visas or they will be required by law to return to Russia. We don't want that to happen so we must submit the necessary paperwork and of course pay a significant sum of money for her to maintain her legal status and give her "permanent residence" in the U.S. Otherwise she will become a statistic and lumped in with all the other millions of "Undocumented citizens" aka "illegal aliens" that currently reside in the United states. It will be a long and expensive journey on their pathway to citizenship but it is something we have to do to remain within the boundaries of immigration law.
Next week we will also register Anna for English Second Language(ESL) classes that begin in October. She will be able to attend free classes that are offered by the College of Western Idaho(CWI) two nights a week. Hopefully this will help her learn English quickly. Coincidentally, one of her daughter's school teachers will be teaching the ESL class. She is from Ukraine and is fluent in both Russian and English. It will be good to have someone we already know teaching the class for her.
Some of our other plans include holding a reception to celebrate our wedding with friends and family. We have not set a specific date yet because it will be a while before we can afford the reception we want to have. We would like to have Anna's family attend as well and that is an expense we cannot afford at this time. Maybe one of the major networks will like our story and offer to help with the expense in exchange for the opportunity to do a story. Personally, I think it may make a great Valentines day special for the Today Show(#TodayShow) or Good Morning America(#GoodMorningAmerica), but that is just my opinion.
Anna and I have also discussed the possibility of a reality show in our future but it has not went very far. At this time we don't have any plans of pursuing this. If we are contacted with an offer, we will certainly discuss it but for now this is not something we are actively pursuing.
Anna does plan to start her own blog soon and in fact I have already purchased the domain name It will be similar to this blog but it will be written in Russian and it will be written from her perspective of all the events that have occurred since we met over 2 years ago online. We will also try to provide an English translation for all our followers. We hope that she will start writing her blog soon but for now you can have a sneak preview at Anna doesn't think her story will be very interesting but I think it will be much better than mine.
We don't know what the future holds but at the very least we hope to publish a book soon.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Wedding Ceremony and our Vows

Anna and I were a little nervous when we first arrived in the courtroom but the judge was very professional and we began to feel more comfortable as the ceremony began.

Judge Reardon began with the following:
We have the honor today of witnessing the marriage of Bryan and Anna. This is not a matter to be entered lightly or selfishly. So, I ask you:
Have you come here freely and without reservation to join together as husband and wife?
Do you both understand that the promises you will make to each other are among the most sacred and serious commitments a person can make?
Anna had a difficult time understanding some of the judges questions but Katya was able to interpret for her and she was able to respond to them quickly. 

He continued...
If you are ready to make this commitment, please join your hands and repeat after me.
I, Bryan take you, Anna to be my Wife. I promise to be true  to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life. Take and wear this ring as a symbol of my love and fidelity.
We all chuckled briefly when Anna began to repeat, "I Bryan take you, Anna".  She blushed a little from embarrassment as she realized her mistake and we continued.
I, Anna take you, Bryan to be my Husband. I promise to be true  to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life. Take and wear this ring as a symbol of my love and fidelity.
Anna again became slightly embarrassed as she had some difficulty putting the ring on my finger. 
You have declared your intentions before me and these witnesses so by the power vested in me as a Magistrate Judge for the State of Idaho, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may now kiss.
The entire wedding ceremony only lasted about 15 minutes. It began at 1:15 and ended around 1:30.
After the ceremony, Judge Reardon, Alan and Laurence signed the marriage certificate and we were left the courtroom as Husband and Wife. It may have been very brief but it is an event that changed our lives forever and Anna and I will never forget.

Monday, September 23, 2013

A weekend to remember.

Anna and I had a busy weekend to say the least. It was busy, wonderful and unforgettable all wrapped up into one brief weekend.
It all began on Thursday night when Anna and I began to rummage through our closet in an attempt to pick out our clothes for the wedding that was scheduled to occur on the following day. While we were busy trying to find some clothes that would be suitable for the event, I received a call from Alan Dein informing me that he was in town and he wanted to come over and meet us in person.
Alan arrived at the house at around 8:30 with his producer Laurence Grissell and we had a brief introduction period before stating to record our first interview in person. We spent almost an hour with them and they left the house at around 9:30. This was just the beginning of an exhausting weekend filled with interviews for our future documentary.
The following day, Anna and I had to wake up early to get ready to go to Ivan's school to meet with his teachers at 8:45. The meeting went longer than expected and the meeting finally concluded at 10:30.
After the meeting with the teachers, Anna and I had to rush to the store to pick up a bouquet of roses for the ceremony and some doughnuts for breakfast.
We arrived home just before Alan and Laurence arrived with a Russian interpreter named Katya to help interpret for Anna during the interviews. She is a full time student at Boise State University who came from Russia a number of years ago and has only recently become a naturalized citizen. We had a very informal interview around the kitchen table as we drank tea and ate doughnuts.
Unfortunately we lost track of time and didn't even notice that it had already past noon. We had to hurry out of the house at 12:15. Worried that we could be late for our own wedding, Anna and I didn't even have time to get dressed in the clothing we had picked out the night before. We only had one hour to pick up her son at school and be at the Ada County Courthouse at 1:15 to get married.
Alan, Laurence and Katya followed us to the school and then to the courthouse. We arrived with only 5 minutes to spare. Just as we arrived to the courthouse Anna became visibly distressed as she noticed that she had forgotten her camera for pictures. Fortunately, Alan found a camera in his bag that he allowed us to use to take the pictures.
I can't even begin to describe the level of emotions that filled the courtroom as the honorable Judge Michael Reardon entered the courtroom. We were nervous, happy, excited and scared at the same time. I don't think the judge was expecting a radio crew there to record the event but he did not seem to mind and he also seemed relieved to know we had brought an interpreter with us.
The ceremony itself only lasted about 10 minutes and we were able to get a few pictures taken during the ceremony and we hope we can post some of the pictures soon. I must admit Alan was surprised that I had listed him and Laurence as our witnesses so they both had to sign our marriage certificate as witnesses to the event.
After the wedding, we all enjoyed a quick lunch at a small cafe at the courthouse before we had to be at Maria's school for a meeting with her teachers at 3:00.
Alan and Laurence followed us to the school and waited until we were done with the meeting with her teachers. After the meeting, they were able to spend half an hour interviewing one of her teachers before we left. Finally at 4:00 Anna and I were free to go home, exhausted after a long day.
Saturday started early for us as well. Anna and I had planned to go to an estate auction that started at 10:00. Alan and Laurence met us at the house for a brief interview before we all left to go to the auction where we met up with Katya. We spent about 4 hours recording and bidding on items. I was able to purchase a sofa and love seat for $15.00 and Alan wanted some vinyl records to add to his collection so I was able to purchase a box full for $20.00.
I must admit people looked at us strangely as we walked around the auction followed by a small crew with a microphone in our face. It was an interesting experience to say the least.
The rest of the weekend was filled with interviews and Alan and Laurence finally left at 4:00 on Sunday. It was an exhausting weekend and Anna and I were glad to finally be able to rest after about 20 hours of recording.
Now Alan and Laurence will spend the next month editing all the audio for the 30 minute documentary that will be broadcast in London, England on an episode of 'Don't Log Off' in November. Hopefully it will be available on podcast shortly afterward. I will definitely post it on our blog as soon as it is available.
Here are some pictures we took over the weekend.

Anna and I holding a cake Katya bought for us.

A picture of the cake

Alan Dein interviewing Anna and Ivan while Katya interprets

Anna and I sitting on the sofa I bought at the auction

Alan Dein and Laurence Grissell leaving to return back home to London.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Tomorrow is the big day!

Yesterday we received our rings from the jeweler after getting them re-sized. We purchased them this last weekend and we were a little concerned that we would not have them back in time for the wedding. Fortunately we received them yesterday and we will have them for the wedding. They may not be the fanciest rings or the most expensive but they were all we could afford and they will work fine for us.

Tomorrow Anna and I will have a very busy day. We need to be up bright and early for a meeting with her son's school teacher at 8:45 for parent/teacher conference at the school. After the meeting with the teacher, Anna and I will need to return home and get ready so we can be at the County Courthouse to get married before the honorable Michael Reardon at 1:15.
Hopefully it won't take too much time because after we get married, we need to rush to another school to meet with her daughter's teacher for another parent/teacher conference at 3:00.
Immediately following the parent/teacher conference with her daughter's teacher, we need to rush back home to meet Alan Dein with BBC4 Radio and his producer Laurence Grissell where they will be waiting for us. From there we will begin a full weekend filled with interviews for a documentary they are producing about us. Look for it soon on BBC Radio.
So much for a honeymoon after the wedding... We will be lucky if we can go out to a restaurant for a nice dinner to celebrate.
We hope we can have a more official ceremony and reception in the near future so we can have some friends and family celebrate with us. And of course it would be nice to have a honeymoon.

Monday, September 16, 2013

A slight change of plan...

Life has been a whirlwind for both Anna and I since Anna arrived in July and time has passed very quickly since her arrival.
It has been a significant adjustment for all of us and has been difficult at times to adjust to our new lives together.
Even though Anna is here on a legal visa, we only have 90 days to get married from the date of her entry into the country. Otherwise she will be required to return to Russia. Our plan has always been to get married so that she can remain in the country with me as my wife. We originally planned to have a nice wedding ceremony on September 21st in front of friends and family but it has been very difficult to plan an official wedding ceremony with a formal reception in such a short period of time and given the fact that we are operating on a very small budget.
It has created a lot of unnecessary stress for all of us. Not to mention Anna is still very uncomfortable around large groups of people and understandably so. I can only imagine how difficult it is for her to stand in a group of people who speak a foreign language while trying to understand what they are saying let alone taking part in the conversation.
So Anna and I decided it would be best to have a private ceremony in front of a judge. I contacted the judge and was able to schedule the wedding for Friday, September 20th in the early afternoon. We feel that this will alleviate a lot of the stress associated with planning a large wedding in such a short period of time. We do hope that we can plan a large reception sometime in the near future but for now we will do only what is necessary and give ourselves more time to plan a larger ceremony in the future. Who knows, maybe we can even get David Tutera to help us plan our reception for a future episode of his television show.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Three weeks until the big day...

With only three more weeks until our wedding Anna and I still have a lot to do and unfortunately with school just getting started we have not had much time to prepare for the wedding. But now that the children have started school we can dedicate more time to planning the wedding.
We have decided to have a simple wedding. We had originally considered having a large wedding and invite a lot of people but unfortunately we are operating on a very small budget and we won't be able to afford a large wedding with lots of guests. I even tried to contact David Tutera to see if he would be interested in helping us plan the wedding for a future episode of his television show "My Fair Wedding" but unfortunately his schedule would not allow for it. So we decided we will keep it very simple. Maybe one day we can afford to have a large ceremony with many invited guests and a nice reception to follow but for now it will be Anna, me, our officiator, maybe some of my family and Alan Dein with BBC 4 radio will be there with his producer from London.
We already have a location and we have someone to officiate the wedding. My friend Dave has offered to let us get married in his backyard and we will employ the services of the Honorable Judge Michael Reardon of Ada county.
We have an appointment to meet with Judge Reardon at the Ada County Courthouse on September 9th at 1:00 P.M. He will discuss with us the details of the ceremony with us and we will pay him $150.00 and he will plan on performing the ceremony for us at 1:00 PM on the 21st.
Anna has picked out a nice dress for the ceremony but I have yet to find some good formal attire for the big day. We also need to purchase the rings but it seems all the wedding sets are too expensive and don't fit within our budget. Hopefully we will find a set that we can afford soon because it would be nice to be able to exchange rings during the ceremony.
Time seems to be moving quickly and we only have 3 short weeks before Anna and I finally get married. We have signed up for a gift registry at Walmart so if anyone wishes to purchase gifts for our wedding you can find our registry in the Boise Walmart stores.