Tag Archive | Scottish

How to keep a Sword in the country

In this case, I mean Sword as my Mr. Sword, not the actual weapon.  At this point, most of you know Mr. Sword is from Scotland, because let’s face it, I talk about Scottish stuff all the time!

obligatory photo of Scottish castle by Miss Sword

Mr. Sword has been in the US since early 2009 and is able to work here because of his L1 visa, which is all fine and dandy, but when you are here on a visa you have very limited control on where you work, live, and can move.  While he’s happy at his job, it’s scary to think that they are the only reason he’s able to stay in the US.

However, after March of 2013, we can begin the process of applying for a green card because Mr. Sword will be married to yours truly.  We are looking forward to being able to make decisions for our new little family based on what is best for us and not because we have no other options.  The process of applying for a green card is daunting to say the least.  I know it can vary from taking a year or so to about five years depending on what country you are from and how long the paperwork takes to get through the system.

I have no idea where to start but I’d like to begin compiling the necessary pieces before the Big Day if at all possible, and that is why I’m thinking of purchasing THIS book:

It looks like it could be very informative but also very long and boring.  And not every section applies to us.  Case in point, “If you are getting married for legitimate reasons, you can skip this section and continue reading at Section D.”  They want to make sure you’re not trying for a “sham marriage.”  NICE.

This books appears to cover things like collecting and managing your paperwork, how to prepare to meet with US officials, navigating the two-year testing period, what to do if you’re rejected, how to renew green cards and visas, and tons more!  While it seems like it’d be helpful, I’m still undecided on whether or not this book is worth purchasing… isn’t there a blog I could read instead?

In the meantime I have some FAQ’s of the Swords…

What is a green card really?  According to this website called USA VISA Express, “A Green Card holder is a status that grants a person authorization to permanently live and work in the United States.”

Does this mean Mr. Sword will become a U.S. citizen?  No, having a green card is different from being a citizen.  From my limited understanding, Mr. Sword will still be a Scottish citizen and unable to do things such as vote while he’s living in the US.  And to be honest, Mr. Sword has no desire to become a U.S. citizen, he’s proud of his heritage and so am I; we want him to be able to live here full-time while still embracing the culture he is from.

How much does it cost?  A billion dollars!  (I’m kidding.)  Too much.  I have no clue at this point, but I heard from a mutual acquaintance who married an Englishman that it’s 500 dollars for me to sponsor him and 1000 dollars for him to apply.  But this number depends on whether or not we hire a lawyer or an online source to help guide us through the process, which could add a few more thousand to our overall number.  Right after paying for a wedding too!  Puke.

Will they interview your friends and family?  Possibly.  I hear that could happen.  I’ve also heard we should start saving old emails, photos, and cards from our life together, as well as utility bills with both our names on them.  Umm, maybe we can submit our wedding video as evidence?  🙂

Will your kids be duel-citizens?  Yes, I think so!  I guess even though our children will most likely be born in the US, because Mr. Sword is Scottish and I’m American, our kids will be citizens of both the US/UK.  Some resources say you need to register them with the British Embassy and others say, just get them passports from both countries and you’ll be  set.

Mr. Sword has the best way of describing it, which always makes me smile.  He says when our kids fly over to Scotland, the customs people will be like, “Hey, welcome back!”  When our kids fly home to America, the people in customs will be like, “Hey, welcome back!”  Currently, when Mr. Sword and I travel abroad we go through different custom lines, so it’ll be nice for the kids to be able to hop in the “welcome back” line instead of the “What are you doing in this country?” line.

So that’s what’s on my mind today.  Does anyone have any tips or resources I should consider besides the book I’m looking at currently?  Please be kind if I have posted misinformation, I’m still learning about all of this stuff!

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Miss Sword bought a sword

I realize my tricky blog post title might be a bit difficult to decipher but I’m happy to report we now have a real life FAKE sword for our Sword Wedding!!

Last week I was wandering through one of my favorite places on earth (Target of course), and I decided to browse the Halloween section (despite not being a fan of the holiday itself).

Lo, and behold (gotta use some old-timey speak for effect) there in the midst of the children’s weapons section was a beautiful broad or double-edged sword complete with a jewel encrusted handle!  I knew I had to have it.

My excitement was hard to contain and I wished I hadn’t been alone because I really wanted to share the moment with someone.  Considering I was in the process of asking a friend to order an authentic type sword from one of his vendors in Ireland/Scotland with a very small “wedding prop” budget, and I was worried that something made of a quality material might be a bit on the heavy and dangerous side; I was totally shocked to run into THIS sword at THIS price.

That’s right!  It was only 9 bucks!  I think this is one of the best parts about planning a wedding.  The element of surprise when you find just the right thing or the perfect idea hits you.  I don’t know what I’d do with a short engagement!  I love this sh@$.

If you’ll remember from my very first post on Weddingbee, I was very reluctant at first to choose such a masculine icon, but once Mr. Sword referred to our icon as a claymore,  I was hooked!  The claymore is a Scottish broadsword and everyone (well mostly my brother, The Glue) is convinced we need to have one at the wedding.  Well, now we do!  Plus, Mr. Sword and I had SUCH a good time using props for our engagement photos that we can’t wait to do it again!  And besides, what’s a fairy tale without a sword battle?  Oh crap, does that mean I need to have two?!?!

The above picture is a close-up of the sword but if you look closely you can see Mr. Sword peeking around the wall.  And no, he’s not interested in joining my photo-taking session, he’s actually telling me to put down my new toy and finish packing for a wedding in Iowa we were leaving for in the morning (packing and I don’t get along, and sometimes I need a kick in the ass gentle reminders to keep going).

Unfortunately for Mr. Sword I wanted just one more picture!

(all photos personal)

Does anyone else plan on using a non-traditional prop for their wedding photos?  How COOL is that sword?!?

Flowers for Girls

There are only a limited few wedding details that I’ve had planned for years, (one being that Sister Big Eyes would be my MOH), and one that came about only a few years ago.   It’s a detail I had solidified in my head even before I met Mr. Sword.  Something so right that you just feel it long before you realize it.  My flower girl.  Littlest C.

Littlest C is almost 6 now but I’ve known her since she was 11 months old!

I always end up crying when I look at these old photos!

How I became a nanny is a story for another day but let’s just say I’ve never been a nanny before this family and I probably won’t be one after this family.  It just fit.  And I basically fell in love with the kids right off the bat.  And PS (while it’s expected of me), I’m NOT one of those people who think every kid is cute!  Obviously my two nanny kids are really special to me and I’m actually celebrating my five-year anniversary with my nanny family in October.  Littlest C’s older brother, we’ll call him Big C, is going to be an usher in the wedding, along with three of my awesome cousins.

Anyway, this past weekend my very talented Boss Lady (who’s making all the extra tartan pieces if you’ll remember), Littlest C, and I went shopping for a flower girl dress for Littlest C and boy oh boy was it exciting!  Littlest C is a bit of a girly-girl like myself and after seeing me try on a few dresses this past May, she couldn’t wait for her turn!  Lucky for her (and unlucky for us) she looks good in everything!  We went to David’s Bridal so she could sample lots of different styles but to be honest, we’re probably going to buy online because it’s a better selection at better prices!  Win win.

The goal was to find something that hints at my dress without being an exact replica.  Boss Lady and I think we have figured out the ideal fabric and fit so all in all I’d say the shopping trip was very successful!  Here are some of the dresses Littlest C got to model for us:

I really wanted Littlest C’s opinion and encouraged her to tell us what she felt most comfortable in and what she liked the best.  Littlest C deemed skirt twirling ability to be most important and she loved the princess-like dresses.  Ahhh, a girl after my own heart.  🙂

Once she discovered how much she looked like a cupcake when she sat down we had trouble keeping her off the ground!

The purple was eliminated pretty quickly because we all think she should be in ivory like the bride!

Littlest C is going to be dropping flower petals on the aisle runner just like a traditional flower girl.  We want to find a nice square basket in ivory or light-colored wood to partly cover in the tartan fabric so she gets a bit of Scottish something for her ensemble as well!

Speaking of Scottish, this is what Mr. Sword what was doing while us girls were shopping.  Video games with Big C.  Such a tough life!  🙂

All in all, it was a wonderful and girly afternoon.  I’m so honored to have Littlest C be my GORGEOUS flower girl.  Not sure who is more excited for the wedding day, her or me!

LOVE.

Are you having a flower girl or ring bearer in your wedding?  What are they wearing?

Back Attack

I want to share something with the Hive.  It’s something that affects me almost daily at this point, it’s something that I’m scared will flare up around my wedding this coming March, something that could affect my ability to move and walk.

It’s my about my back.  I have chronic back problems.  And in March of 2011, I had back surgery.  Yes, at age 27 I was in surgery for my back.  To put this in perspective, Grandma Sword said a few of her friends had gone through similar surgeries, so yea, not something too common in my peer group.  I was rushed into surgery a mere 18 hours after meeting with my surgeon and hearing that I had a fully herniated disc.  Originally, I tried physical therapy when the pain first started but after an MRI it was clear that I needed surgery.  I ended up having a relatively new procedure called endoscopic microdiscectomy surgery and my recovery was fast.

A few months later the medical bills started rolling in, and to this day I’m unsure what was worse, the most intense physical pain I’ve ever felt in my life or the staggering amount of emotional distress I endured while dealing with my insurance company and the hospitals.

Mom Sword took care of me for a full week post-surgery. We co-existed in my studio condo better than we ever thought possible and it’s created amazing memories for us. My Mom is the best!!

If my surgery story were a fairy tale it would go something like this: Once upon a time a relatively active artist who experienced minor back pain on occasion lived a very happy albeit dramatic life.  One day she was in rehearsal for a show and something just didn’t feel right.  A few days later the artist couldn’t get out of bed.  That night her Scottish Knight in shining armor drove her to the emergency room.  After four hours she finally received pain meds only to vomit them up, and eventually begged to be admitted.  Twelve grueling hours AFTER THAT she received some magical medicine in her back that got rid of the pain but caused her to lose all feeling in her left leg.

The artist stayed home from work to rest, got an MRI, and met with a back wizard a few days later who told her that if she didn’t get the disc debris off of her nerve, she would eventually lose all ability to control her leg AND possibly go on to lose control of her vaginal and rectal muscles.  Once those were gone, the wizard told her, there would be no way to get them back.  The artist was rushed into surgery with the Scottish Knight by her side the whole time.  Her back wizard was a special wizard and had learned a very fancy technique in Germany where he used something the size of a pen to go in through her side as opposed to the more invasive route of going through her back tissue.  Because of his special powers, the artist was able to recover in a few weeks as opposed to a few months.

My fake “back brace” baby bump.

While her back felt better for the time being, the artist had to spend a lot of time in therapy to re-gain the use of her left leg.  She was one of the lucky ones because she got almost all the feeling back in her left leg except for two toes that are still partly numb.  The wizard told her to never run again and to focus on core strengthening and Pilates.  The artist didn’t care all that much for running or working out in the first place, so she was OK with this.  And for a year she felt pretty good… that is until she started working out again more frequently right around the time that she got engaged.

Honestly, I have no idea how this fairy tale will end.  Right now, I occasionally feel this really sharp pain in my back.  The nerve isn’t being damaged anymore, but two of my discs rubbing together and sometimes it’s so bad I can’t get out of bed.  I might have an artificial disc put in at some point, or I might have to get my two discs fused together, and more than likely, I will have more herniated discs in the future.  I know many people suffer from bulging or herniated discs or other back pain, and more often than not they just want to help, but it’s so annoying to hear that my back would be fine IF ONLY I lowered my stress level and used more ice packs.  My surgeon says it’s mostly a case of genetics, so it’s very likely that I’ll have a relationship with him for the rest of my life.

How does all this pertain to my wedding?  Well remember my post on irrational fears?  My very REAL fear is that I’ll have some back pain around the week of my wedding.  I just had a really bad week with my back, almost passing out from the pain as I walked to the bathroom in the middle of the night to go pee.  I have no idea what happened but sometimes things shift around in there and it causes such pain that I cannot move, let alone walk.  Working out for me is mostly non-existent because even Pilates sometimes causes discomfort the next day.  The issue is how do I strengthen my core when movement is what causes the problems?!?!  Right now I’m focusing on using my resistance bands to tone my arms (you know how I feel about my arms), walking a lot, and eating healthier.  While there’s not much calorie-burning going on, it’s a start.

And I don’t just have fears about the wedding.  I have fears about carrying a child someday, convinced I’ll be on bed rest the entire time because my back won’t be able to take the extra weight.  I’m scared that this back issue will be an ever-present drain on my relationship with Mr. Sword (even though he’s been amazing), as well as a drain on our funds.

I know this sounds a bit like a “poor Miss Sword sob story,” so I want to recognize that I realize lots of people suffer from chronic issues.  I have friends who struggle every minute of every day dealing with Crohn’s disease, and I have a really good friend who has the heart of a 50-year-old (which causes her a lot of problems obviously), and she’s the same age as me.  How is that fair?  It’s not, but that’s life, and while it may be tough, I have no plans to mope about or slow down!  IT’S THE YEAR OF MY WEDDING!  🙂

And I promise my next post will be 100% more uplifting!  It includes a little girl and trying on dresses.  Not much cuter than that!

Does anyone else have a physical aliment that gets in the way of life at times?  Are you worried about it affecting your wedding too?

Time to put on your Scottish dancing shoes!

Since I first started blogging about my Scottish fiancé, many of you have been asking if we will be having a Ceilidh (kā-lē) band at the wedding, and the answer is a resounding YES!!  A Ceilidh is technically a big Scottish party with lots of music and dancing and most of the time (in Scotland), it follows a wedding but sometimes it’s just a stand alone rockin’ good time!  Each Ceilidh band usually has their own caller or person who directs the dancing, and this is KEY for our wedding, because I know this will be the first Ceilidh for most of our lovely guests!

I first alluded to how we found our band back when I wrote about my brother renting his kilt for the wedding.  My parents really saved the day by attending the Minnesota Scottish Fair and hunting down the lead person of our band to ask him if they performed at weddings.  And thank goodness they did, because you’re sadly mistaken if you think there are a plethora of Ceilidh bands roaming the Midwest.  I think I found about three, including the one we booked!  Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a hold of any of them, and at one point I was considering nixing the whole idea, but fortunately it didn’t come to that!

Luckily, we found The Gunn Slingers and while we were in Minnesota this summer we met with their accordion player and caller, Neil Gunn.  He is Scottish and married to a girl from Minnesota.  His drummer is Scottish and married to a Minnesota girl as well.  Does any of this ring a bell?  I can’t make this stuff up people!

Meeting with Neil happened to be our latest appointment of the whole planning trip, and only a true night owl (or Scottish person) could stay up this late!  Just kidding, it was like 9 PM, but still, that’s only 1.5 hours before my bedtime.  LAME.  Naturally, we met at a bar, and it was a great time!  We could have chatted all night (if it weren’t for my blasted bedtime).  Neil shared with us that he had a bit of learning curve when he first started calling for Ceilidh’s in Minnesota.  He quickly figured out that people will just stare blankly at you if you say, “Now, turn anti-clockwise!”  Counter-clockwise works much better here.  🙂

Miss Sword and Neil

Neil was nice enough to take a picture with me when I told him I was blogging about my wedding.

Finally I leave you with a video gem of random wedding guests dancing at a Ceilidh.

Mr. Sword really doesn’t like it when I compare Ceilidh dancing to American square dancing but the simple moves, spins, and partnering off just remind me of it!  I know this isn’t the most common type of dancing to be done at an American wedding, but I figure we will have enough Ceilidh dancing veterans to get the party started, and I’m not too worried about people dancing because my family LOVES to dance and are really looking forward to hearing the band.  Plus, the DJ will be taking over after an their hour set to finish out the night with a nice mix of classic and contemporary tunes for everyone to shake their asses to (anything but the chicken dance please!).  Clearly, I want our guests to be sweaty and exhausted by the end of the evening!

I’m so happy that we have a band for our Big Day and I’m super excited about attending my very first Ceilidh!!  Have any of the UK readers been to a Ceilidh before?  What was your experience?  Anyone else have a family that loves dancing?  Anyone else crazy enough to do a band AND a DJ?

What the heck is that Scottish thing?!?

A few of you Hive members have been asking for a breakdown of all the different pieces and accoutrement of the Scottish kilt, and I’m here now to present my limited knowledge on the subject based on, well, Google and not much more.  Mr. Sword is new to the world of kilts (although he can pronounce all of the different pieces perfectly), and I’m new to any place outside of the Midwest (and I can pronounce accoutrement).  Clearly, that makes me an expert.

If you’d like a quick reminder of Mr. Sword’s awesome wedding garb, check this out! Otherwise, here are all the different parts of traditional Highland dress, listed in the order of how you should put them on:

1. Shirt.  It should be plain, white, and as simple as possible.  Either button or cuff-link sleeves will do, but nothing too fancy.  It is usually worn with a simple black bow-tie.

2. Kilt Hose and Flashes.  These are the long socks that come up to just under the man’s knee, and the short strips of fabric that are hanging from the garter.  The hose are folded over once right before the knee and the flashes are usually made of the same fabric as the kilt or at least something complimentary.  I guess it’s uncommon to wear white kilt hose, but cream (which is what Mr. Sword’s are although the color is labeled as arran) is perfectly acceptable.

3. Sgian Dhubh (which sounds like “skiii in dooo” when Mr. Sword says it).  This is the small knife that is usually worn on the right leg.  It means “black knife” and is purposely concealed in the kilt hose so that it is accessible in case one needs to defend themselves from an attacker.  In recent years, it has proven difficult for men to travel overseas with their sgian dhubh’s because of weapon laws.

image via Wikipedia

4. Brogues.  The low-heeled shoe or boot is the next piece to put on while getting dressed.  Any formal style shoe will do and most are complimented by the popular ghillie brogues or long laces that tie around the ankle.  Mr. Sword WILL be wearing the laces on our wedding day but has yet to try them out at this point.

5.  Kilt.  This is the meat of the outfit, and while some may call it a skirt, it’s actually a very masculine (and sexy) article of clothing.  It is secured at the waist with straps and buckles and usually has pleating at the back.  It should fall right to the knee and expose the knee slightly.

6. Sporran Strap and Sporran.  The sporran strap is put through the loops on the back of the kilt and the sporran attaches to the chain rings at the front.  Sporran is Gaelic for “purse” so obviously you’d expect to find some cash, chap stick, mints, a brush, and at least one tampon!  Not likely.  All jokes aside, I’m quite curious what Mr. Sword will put in his sporran on the day of the wedding!

7. Vest and Coatee.  The vest is usually pretty standard, but the jacket or coatee can be one of many different styles.  Prince Charlie and Argyll are the most common, but there are also Tweed jackets, doublets, and other more causal looks that don’t require a coatee at all!  Mr. Sword will be sporting the Argyll jacket.

Finally, the BIG question!  The one that gets asked very frequently and never ceases to make people giggle.  DO THE SCOTS REALLY GO WITHOUT UNDERWEAR WHILE WEARING A KILT?!?!  Yes, in fact, they do go commando.  Apparently, you’re not a real Scot unless you do.  So far Mr. Sword is saying he’ll be going fully Scottish on the day of the wedding, leaving his boxers at home, but I have my doubts that he’ll go through with it since they’ll be a lot of dancing and drinking at the wedding.  But who knows?  He might surprise me.  I guess you’ll find out in the recaps!  You know I won’t keep that nugget a secret.  🙂

Special thanks to Wikipedia and Scottish Tartans Authority for their helpful information!  I’m sure I’ve missed something along the way, and it’s likely that there might be conflicting info on the web, but I hope you’ve learned a little something! I know I did.

Who else is embracing another culture because of their future spouse?  Do you like learning about it as much as I do?  Anyone else think Mr. Sword is going to take just as long as me to get ready on the BIG DAY?  🙂

Happy Engagiversary!!

This past weekend Mr. Sword and I celebrated our six-month engagiversary, for one simple reason: we remembered it. (who remembers their six-month engagiversary?!?!)

We were out on a dinner cruise and the waiter asked us if we were celebrating anything special (we were not), but after he left it dawned on me, it was the 19th of August, six months ago to the day was when Mr. Sword took me to the top of the John Hancock and proposed!  So we celebrated.

The dinner cruise was on  a ship called the Odyssey that takes off from Navy Pier.  Boss lady had bid on it at a silent auction and then gifted it to Mr. Sword and I.  Man, were we grateful!!  Tickets for the three-course meal, live band, and amazing view are a bit on the pricey side but the only thing we had to buy were our drinks and gratuity.  We ended up splitting a bottle of red wine and celebrating our engagement basking in the evening glow of our favorite city.  It was the most perfect date night.  Seriously, if you ever go to Chicago and have the time/money to go on a dinner cruise, do it!  One of my favorite things about Chicago is the skyline, and it’s absolutely gorgeous at sunset on a boat.

Dear Mr. Sword, I love you so much!  You have been such a wonderful fiancé for the past few months and I’m so lucky to have such a helpful and smart groom-to-be.  Another half a year to go til we say I do!  This journey has been one of the best I’ve ever taken.  You’re my most favorite tall skinny Scottish man ever! 🙂 Muah!

(all photos personal)

Has anyone celebrated their engagiversary at the half-way mark or at a year?  Anyone else remember last-minute like us?