Curve Ball…The Saga Continues

I posted exactly one week ago today that out Visa had been approved in Brazil and that Michael and I were hoping to have it in hand and be on our way in 10-14 days.  Then, a few days later, we were thrown a major curve ball.

Basically, obtaining a work Visa for Brazil is a huge PROCESS but here is the short version:
Step 1: Get a job there (check — as of October 2011 when Michael’s firm confirmed his transfer to the Sao Paulo office)
Step 2: That company has to file a work Visa application on your behalf with the Brazilian government (check — as of November 2011)
Step 3: Visa application gets approved in Brazil and is ready to be processed at your local consulate, which for us is in San Francisco (check — as of last week and should be ready tomorrow or Thursday in SF)
Step 4: Preparation of all sorts of documents to present to the consulate in your jurisdiction when the Visa is ready
Step 5: The consulate processes the Visa along with the documents and grants the actual Visa that sends you on your way.

Basically, we are in the midst of Step 4 and have everything ready EXCEPT for one document that threw us for a MAJOR loop.  For some reason our marriage license needs to get “legalized” (aka signed off on) by the consulate in Atlanta since we were married in South Carolina and that falls within the jurisdiction of the Atlanta consulate.  Not only this, but the Atlanta consulate only accepts documents through the mail and their website says it can take up to 20 business days to legalize, with no way to expedite the process nor gauge how long it will actually last.  WHAT????  20 business days??  THEN we will have to get it mailed back to San Francisco, take it to the consulate here with all of our other documents, and wait another couple of days for the actual Visa.   AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!  (PS – check out how NOT user-friendly the Atlanta Consulate website is)

It’s a long story as to why we didn’t know this sooner, but suffice it to say that Michael and I were DEVASTATED when we realized that we may not be as close to getting there as we thought.  As of right now, the Atlanta consulate has our marriage license and we are PRAYING that the approval is VERY SWIFT!  (Theoretically it could happen in a matter of days and then we would be right back on track but there is no way to know.)  Separately, we had already been scheduled to come back to San Francisco today to legalize some documents at the consulate here (which, in San Francisco, takes only a couple of days and is easily done in person) and pick up the Visa, so we went ahead and flew to SF today, but now we’re not sure how long we’ll be here waiting.  We do know, however, that we will not be leaving here until we have Visas in hand and are boarding a flight to Brazil.

The move has already been an emotional process (and we’re not even there yet!) but we are trying to keep in perspective that this is not something bad, it is just the delay of something great.  We are just SO ready to get there and had no idea that there would be so many issues and delays that would come up, but I have faith that we are CLOSE and that we will get there soon, in God’s perfect timing.  So, on that note, if you want to pray for us, please join us in praying that the approval from the consulate in Atlanta would be very quick and that no other issues would come up.  In the meantime we are back in SF as we continue living out of suitcases, working, studying Portuguese, etc.

Please picture us walking through the airport today with alllll these bags... Thankfully they all made the trip. Now we're ready to take them to BRAZIL!

PS — We have actually done a ton of awesome stuff recently including a trip to the Grand Canyon, a visit home to SC (me), a half marathon (Michael)…and I’ll write more about that soon.  Just wanted to share the news…


…from Jeans & A T-Shirt!!!

This morning Michael and I received the AMAZING news that our


It is such a relief for us to get this news as we have been unable to plan ANYthing without the approval, and you never know if there are going to be issues, delays…  Now that we are approved, I think this means that we will likely head South to BRAZIL in 10-14 days.  WOOOHOOOOO!!!!!  Thank you God!

So grab a drink – it’s time to Celebrate!


What are we waiting for?!

Some of you may be wondering, “What are they waiting for?  Why aren’t they in Brazil already?  What’s going on?”  Well, to help answer these questions that are no doubt keeping you up at night, here is a little update on the status of the move…

We are all ready to make the move and are just waiting on one final detail…our VISAS.  Such a process but the short story is that the expected timeline is for them to be approved late January (at the latest) so we are hoping that we’re in Sao Paulo by Feb. 1.  However, because the approval could literally come any day now, we made the decision to go ahead and leave our apartment in SF when our lease ended Jan. 7 and we’re now staying with Michael’s parents in Phoenix as we wait.  (Thanks Sharon and Ollie!!)

We separated our belongings into 3 groups
1) Stuff that we are packing on our person = 4 checked bags, 2 carry on bags and 2 backpacks — mostly clothes, computers, necessities
2) Stuff that will be air-shipped to us and will probably arrive a few weeks after we arrive in Brazil = 11 boxes — more clothes, shoes, and random other items we may want/need as we wait for…
3) EVERYTHING else that will travel on an ocean freight.  Average wait-time on receiving these items is around 3 MONTHS due to Brazilian customs — c-r-a-z-y.  (I just heard of someone who waited 8 months on their shipment so crossing my fingers for just 3.)
(As we wait for the visas to be approved, the air and sea shipment is being held by our movers and they will send it out as soon as we are approved.)

A lot of people ask if we know where we’ll live once we arrive in Sao Paulo.  The answer is yes and no.  When we arrive, we will start out in furnished, corporate housing.  In fact, I think we will be staying at the George V Hotel in Itaim.  What do you think of it???  I think it looks kind of cool.  During this time we will look for an apartment into which we’ll move once our stuff gets there!  (Again, est. time 3 months)

So…it’s all a little up in the air at this point but we’re making the best of it.  Michael is able to work remotely and I am working full time on studying Portuguese.  🙂  We are enjoying spending time with his family and I will actually get to make one more quick trip home next week too.  That being said, if you have any good books to recommend…now is a great time!  🙂

OK friends – thanks for caring about us!  xoxoxo

Farewell San Francisco…

It makes me sad just writing the title of this post, but alas, Michael and I have packed our bags and said “Farewell” to the beautiful City by the Bay.

It was a crazy final week in San Francisco.  After ringing in the New Year, we had lots of tasks to accomplish, and on Tuesday, somewhere between running errands and packing things up I had my first minor freak-out session.  Michael was at work so I was at home by myself and it was like all of the sudden I realized what we were doing – that we were leaving behind my favorite city that I’ve ever lived in, leaving our little apartment where we began our married life, saying “goodbye” to amazing friends that are once-in-a-lifetime kind of friends, and moving to a country to which I have never been, where they speak a language that I don’t speak, where who knows if I’ll be able to get a real job…it was all a little overwhelming!  But I think those are normal feelings to feel, normal thoughts to be having, right???  Michael was great – so patient with me and assured me that I was completely valid in feeling those things and he reminded me that we would be doing this move together – every step of the way.  So, what else do you do but keep moving forward??

We had a long day Wednesday getting ready for the movers to arrive on Thursday so we treated ourselves to a quick dinner out to…our favorite Brazilian restaurant, Canto do Brasil!  It was a fun little date and Michael did all of the ordering in Portuguese.

At Canto do Brasil (looking a little grimy from working all day)

Thursday morning the movers showed up around 9am and got after it.  I’ll write more later about how we are actually moving and shipping everything but suffice it to say that I was very thankful not to have to pack it all myself.  Thursday night was our last night in our apartment so Michael and I popped a bottle of champagne and toasted our wonderful, sweet, 751 sq. ft., first home together.

To an amazing first 1 year and 9 months of marriage in Apartment 505! 🙂

That night we grabbed a drink with our dear friend Leah at an old favorite, local spot, District, for a glass of wine and a goodbye.

Friday morning Michael and I ran a couple of last minute errands.  Our first-stop was the Police Station to get a letter of good-conduct that we will need to pick up our visas.  Next we dropped off a load at Goodwill before heading back home as the movers returned to finish packing us up.  Things moved quickly and I basically just tried to stay out of their way as all of our belongings made their way into 133 brown boxes…

Our boxes lined the hallways.

The movers finished up around 1pm and Michael and I headed straight to our favorite local lunch/brunch spot, Serpentine.  (If you’re in SF and you’ve never been – check it out!)  It was just as good as always and then we were off to finish some last minute errands before we grabbed our bags and headed to the hotel.  We stayed at the fabulous Hotel Drisco and appreciated even more our incredible view of the city.

Friday night Michael and I got dinner nearby at Nopalito with our very dear friends Mike & Moira and Troy & Christie.  Food was amazing and the company was perfect.

Last meal in SF at Nopalito with the crew. We miss you guys already!!

Then we grabbed drinks at Lion Pub and eventually said our goodbyes.  It is always hard to leave friends but I do think there is something a little less-sad when leaving true, close friends, as you know they will always be in your life.

So, on Saturday morning it was with sad yet thankful and excited hearts that we said goodbye to San Francisco.

(Right now we’re in Phoenix as we await our visa confirmation but more on all that soon!!)

Welcome to 2012!

Michael and I returned to San Francisco for one final week to get moved out of our apartment and to kick off the new year with some of our dearest friends.

We started the night off with appetizers and mint juleps at Christie & Troy’s apartment.  It was great to see Christie since she has been traveling the world for Facebook lately and we’ve missed her around the city.

After some quality catch-up time with the Bienemanns, we cabbed over to La Mar on the Embarcadero to meet up with the rest of the crew for the New Years spectacular.  The night was filled with fabulous ceviche, pisco sours, and other Peruvian specialties, a plethora of New Years toasts that all were required by Mike Saign to give excited to give, an incredible fireworks show over the water, a less incredible DJ, and of course, lots of laughs and memories.  Here is a quick look at our evening…

Starting off the night toasting Pisco Sours - w/ Christie!

Across the table -- Reed, Michael, Troy -- the night still so young

Troy & Mike!

Giving the toast of my life

The other end of the table... Elliot, Sheila, Cope

Heading outside to count down

Mike & Moira -- "All you need is love"

The first photo of 2012!!! With the love of my life. 🙂

Happy 2012 everyone!  It’s sure to be an amazing year!!

A Harper Family Christmas

So, I’m a little behind on posting so bear with me as I do Christmas first then follow up with New Years (Happy 2012 everyone!).  That being said, Christmas is absolutely one of my favorite holidays.  I love the meaning, the smells, the celebration, the food, the fun and of course, spending it with family.  This year Michael and I celebrated Christmas with his family in Arizona.  The Harpers are an incredible family and have loads of fun traditions.  Here is a look at what we’ve been up to the past week…

1) Christmas Eve:  Christmas Eve started with a beautiful outdoor mass at 5pm (only in Arizona can you do an outdoor mass on Christmas Eve!).  Then, the Christmas Eve tradition is to have a big dinner with their long-time friends and neighbors, the Griego family.  The Harpers and Griegos alternate who hosts on Christmas Eve, and this year it was the Harpers’ turn.

The entire Harper/Griego clan

The night starts with drinks and appetizers

Michael & Joe -- resident mixologists

Next up is dinner.  To fit everyone, the Harpers rented a tent to put out on their patio with the table and chairs all around.

The beautiful tented table area! Set with the famous oyster soup.

The meal always starts with oyster soup that everyone complains about (but I think it’s good!), followed by tamales, enchiladas and salad.  Dessert is rice pudding and there are always hidden whole almonds in some of the bowls. Whoever finds an almond gets to open a gift, however these “gifts” are always a little… unique.  🙂  This year there were almonds in all of the kid’s bowls!

After dinner the gambling commences with the legendary dice game!  🙂  The great thing about this is that the Harpers and Griegos supply the money, so for all of the kids, it’s pure fun.  This year Michael’s dad Ollie really mixed things up by bringing out the $2 bills!  It was an exciting game but in the end, Kelly Griego came out on top this year!  Finally, the hats always make an appearance before the night is over.

All the "kids"

2.) Presents!  Since we were leaving early the next morning to head to Sedona, we decided to open gifts before bed on Christmas Eve.  One of the great traditions for gifts is that each Harper sibling (spouses and fiances included) are assigned a Secret Santa.  This year Joe was assigned to me which is great luck because Joe is known for being a fantastic Secret Santa.  He totally delivered this year by getting me an awesome, hot pink Lulu Lemon zippie and my very own yoga mat!  Thanks Joe!

Joe is a great Secret Santa!

Shannon (in her new fur vest), Lise and Mocha during gifts

The other major highlight of the night was when Christy and TJ (newly engaged!) asked all of the siblings to be in their wedding!  I will be a bridesmaid – yay!!!!!  Can’t wait to celebrate with them!

I'm a bridesmaid! Lise & Shannon are co-maids of honor, Joe is a groomsman/musician and Michael is a groomsman/THE OFFICIANT!!!

3.) Christmas Day: We spent Christmas day this year at the Harpers’ cabin in Sedona.  It is absolutely magical out there and we had a blast celebrating with the whole McCain crew (minus Jack – we missed you!).

All of the Harpers in front of the cabin

4.) Day After Christmas: The day after Christmas we headed back from the cabin and had another party in Phoenix.  The Harpers had lots of their family visit so we got to utilize the tent again for another fabulous meal.

Whew!  It’s been a lot but a LOT of FUN!  I hope you’ve had lovely holidays!!