Living in America 2013

(382 Posts)
smartieknickers Wed 30-Jan-13 22:31:40

Howdy y'all! I was a long time lurker on the Living in America 2012 thread and in the spirit of my new year's resolution to 'get involved in more stuff' I thought I'd start a new thread, what with it being a month into 2013 and all that... So who's with me? grin

Link to previous thread

Brief introduction: I initially moved from Scotland to Houston, TX with my DH and DS (now 2) in 2011, but we moved to Dallas in September last year. We never really felt quite at home in Houston but for some reason we really like life in Dallas, even though it's pretty similar in a lot of ways. We have just today finally dispatched with the last of our Christmas visitors (we've had parents and in-laws here back-to-back for 5 solid weeks!!) so I'm feeling like I deserve a large wine and a medal

mumof4sons Thu 31-Jan-13 13:06:49

Hi Smartie. I am moving back to the US on Monday , 4th Feb. I have spent the last 23 years living on the Suffolk/Essex borders. I can't wait. I have so much to look forward to: buying a car, a house and getting a job. I can't wait to see all my old friends and really spend some time with my Mum.

Leaving England behind is going to be hard. My 4DSs are staying here, however 2DSs will be joining me later in the year. I am leaving behind lots of good friends too. Just hope that they come and visit often.

wine Here's to you surviving the relative and also to my future!

smartieknickers Thu 31-Jan-13 20:13:45

Wow that's going to be a big change after 23 years mumof4! Whereabouts are you moving back to? I hope all goes smoothly with the move and you settle back in to life in the US easily...

FlipFantasia Fri 01-Feb-13 01:28:50

Hello smile

Thanks for starting this smartie - I've been lurking on MN too much recently so you've inspired me to actually post grin

Glad to hear Dallas is suiting you more than Houston. Sounds like a busy time with visitors! How have you found it in terms of making friends. We moved to northern NJ in October and I'm starting to make friends...well one friend and some acquaintances but a good start I think!

Munof4boys - hope the move goes smoothly. Only days left now! I imagine it's both exciting and surreal...

Blackcurrants, sorry for not posting my congrats sooner but huge congrats on the birth of Alex. I bet he's scrumptious and I hope ds1 is enjoying the baby smile

Wantobe, wow 37 weeks. Not long now! Can't wait to hear how it all goes smile

All good here. Busy with life but not with anything in particular iykwim. Just arrived at in-laws in south jersey tonight as FIL is about to have heart surgery. Which is stressful and worrying but we're all hoping it goes well.

Hope everyone's well and happy smile

NatashaBee Fri 01-Feb-13 01:34:52

<waves from Michigan>... Hope you all have better weather than we do, an inch of snow has fallen in the last hour!

rosiesmartypants Fri 01-Feb-13 01:40:51

Hi y'all! Thanks smartie! I relocated from Scotland to Fort Worth with DH last March. He was supposedly on a year long secondment, only I am now 31 weeks pg with DC1...so we are staying a while longer!

Have been up and down to Houston a bit with DHs work, and think the DFW area is MUCH nicer. Have also met a lovely bunch of ex-pat ladies here, who have made me very welcome.

Want2bSupermum Sat 02-Feb-13 10:12:27

Hello everyone!

Flip I can't believe I am still working. Had a tough week and I am working a full day today. Baby is doing well and my CS date has been moved back to the 25th. Much happier with this. I officially finish work next Friday but this time of year we work Saturdays from the office so I will be working then too.

I am up because of the dog waking me to go outside. The smell of snow was in the air. The weather has been really off this week and I struggled with the flux in temperature of 25F to 70 and back to 30F. My poor ankles are swollen (of course nothing to do with being 38 weeks pregnant and working 60+ hours a week!).

Want2bSupermum Sat 02-Feb-13 10:19:14

oh and smartie - DH and I both love Texas. DH loves Dallas while I spent a lot of time in Houston with a couple of days in Dallas.

smartieknickers Sat 02-Feb-13 19:58:20

Flip, we've found a few friends/acquaintances but we haven't really got ourselves into a routine of seeing them regularly yet. We've just been so busy with our new house and then having visitors, and now that they've gone we've all come down with the lurgy so don't really have the energy... Hopefully we'll all be back to tip top form soon and ready to socialise a bit more!

Rosie, a friend of a friend of mine recently moved from Fort Worth to Houston with her family having lived there for some years. I know she had a really lovely group of ex-pat ladies there - maybe your paths even crossed before she left! It seems to be a very small world when you're an expat....

Want2b, we're still undecided about Texas. There are definitely worse places to live and the people we've met here are all lovely, but we're already a bit fed up with mediocre TexMex food and missing being able to go out for some 'lighter' meals!

goodbyeyellowbrickroad Tue 05-Feb-13 20:14:29

Hello!

Just found this thread and the timing is perfect as we're about to relocate to Houston, TX in a few weeks time. Currently trying to organise what to take, what to leave/get rid of and anything that we should buy (other than tea bags in bulk!) before we leave the UK. Any tips??

Looking forward to chatting to you all smile

Want2bSupermum Wed 06-Feb-13 04:54:22

Hi everyone and welcome goodbye. Wanted to post that I passed the last part of the CPA exam... just don't ask me on taxes. I swear that they made a mistake with my scores but I'm not telling them! So happy to be done with the studying. I am going to apply for my license next week and do the ethics exam before I go in for CS on the 25th. Apparently I can do the ethics exam online, it's open book and I get 3 attempts to pass it.

goodbye Don't bother bringing anything electrical. Tea bags are not a huge issue here in the North East - Trader Joes has decent enough tea bags and you can order yorkshire gold on amazon. The cost isn't much more than the UK. Furniture wise I would only bring really nice stuff unless your on a company move and they are paying to move everything. You can pick up lots of great furniture on craigslist.

I moved over here at the age of 25 with 2 weeks notice from the bank that I worked for. Shipping takes an awfully long time. Newark to Liverpool is something like 6 weeks. I was shocked when I found this out. I thought it would be a week or two max. For electrical stuff I would either get a costco membership when you move here, order it from amazon or buy 2nd hand off craigslist. It all depends on your budget.

Hi all, I disappeared from the last thread after a 3month dearth of visitors at the end of last year (I'm formerly GirlWithTheMouseyHair)

I'm in LA, coming up to our 1st year anniversary and having spent the last 6weeks in the UK was relieved to find myself looking forward to coming home.

Properly busy year ahead, funny how things become so much more planned out when you're an expat - we already have about 7lots of visitors booked to come out and see us

NatashaBee Wed 06-Feb-13 13:47:41

To be honest, if you're getting a lump sum for moving and can spend it however you want, I would only ship the minimum (clothes and books, favourite kids toys). We shipped the contents of a 3 bed house over, but we could have bought it all again for pretty much the same price (and made some money selling the old stuff), and it took 8 weeks to get to us so was pretty annoying waiting for everything to arrive. Gardner White, Ikea, Value City Furniture, Target, Sears, Walmart are all good places to look for furniture and kitchen goods.

smartieknickers Wed 06-Feb-13 18:03:18

Hello AmericasTorturedBrow. I can sympathise with you about the visitors, though we haven't got quite as many booked as you - I guess people are more keen to visit California than Texas!

Goodbye - Hello! Are you paying for the move yourselves or is it being paid for? When we came over my husband's company footed the bill for our move so we brought pretty much everything except our washing machine and tumble drier. Most modern tvs are dual voltage so will work here, computers are fine, lamps fine (but need to buy new bulbs). Whereabouts in Houston are you moving to? Feel free to PM me if you'd like some more specific local info...

smartieknickers Wed 06-Feb-13 18:05:32

Oh and Goodbye, there's loads of useful info about moving to the States, what to bring etc on the discussion forums on britishexpats.com so I would definitely suggest registering on that website.

goodbyeyellowbrickroad Wed 06-Feb-13 19:34:23

We're fortunate that DH company is footing the cost of shipping our stuff and giving us a lump sum which makes things a lot more manageable. I was so relieved to hear that the shipping company come in and do all the packing for us - I was not looking forward to that with our 8 month old DS to keep entertained at the same time!

smartie - we haven't decided on what area of Houston we're going to settle in. We have an apartment for the 1st month in Downtown (near DH work) and will use that time to house hunt. Plan is to rent for the 1st year. We were over for a reccie a few weeks ago - quite liked Sugarland and the areas around Hermann Park. Will PM you at some point to pick your brains over local info.

NatashaBee - thanks for the shopping tips. Think we'll need to buy some more furniture to fill whatever house we go for as they all look so much bigger compared to our little terrace!

Want2b - congrats on passing your exam and thanks for the reassurance on the teabag front. Can't function without a proper brew in the morning!

NotMoreFootball Thu 07-Feb-13 00:37:46

Hi Everyone, I've been in the US for around a year but often feel left out on MN as everyone seems to live in Texas or New York and I'm in Tennessee!
We shipped very little furniture and electrical items over as we had company money to buy stuff here and now I LOVE LOVE LOVE my new super King sized American bed, I will definitely be taking that wherever I go next (even if I have to leave DH and DS behind to make room for it!)
I'm very happy with my DS's (8) school generally but am worn out from the constant testing and quizzes they seem to have. This week they have a Social Studies test, Maths test, Comprehension test, Grammer test and Spelling test and that is typical of most weeks. Every test counts towards Report Card Grades which are issued every 6 weeks so all tests must be taken seriously with appropriate amounts of revision and DS is only in 3rd Grade!!
I think back to his British School and the 10 spellings a week to learn and maybe the occasional Maths worksheet and can't believe the difference in the amount of homework.

Kungfutea Thu 07-Feb-13 02:59:40

Hi there. We're in NYC. I used to post with a different nn but new year, new name smile. We've been here since the summer and pretty good so far, although still miss London!

NMF, I sympathize with the homework. My 9 year old gets tons each night, although i think the lack of uniform might just outweighs the homework for her! Luckily they still go easy on the 6 year old.

smartieknickers Thu 07-Feb-13 03:06:06

NotMore You're not by any chance in Nashville are you? I'm heading there for a girls' weekend in a few weeks' time and so would be v grateful for any recommendations of places to stay/eat/have fun... (or if anyone else has any local knowledge I'd love to hear it!)

TheCatInTheHairnet Thu 07-Feb-13 03:16:45

Goodbye, we brought our tv, DVD, stereo, etc and used a transformer. 6 years later, we still use the stereo but the tv and DVD got binned years ago.

And if you're going to bring your UK beds, be aware that kind of keeps you having to buy fresh bedding in the UK too. And UK beds sometimes look a bit silly in big American rooms.

Hello to everyone else. Big storm coming into NY. Maybe....

NotMoreFootball Thu 07-Feb-13 03:31:03

Kungfutea - We still have a uniform except on days when they have a Pep Rally and then the kids are allowed to wear jeans!

Smartieknickers - yes, I'm in Nashville, it's a great city, you'll have a fab weekend! Try and stay in a hotel near Broadway which is the heart of downtown Nashville and full of bars that all have live music on most nights. There's a Hilton and a Renaissance hotel both just off Broadway.
If you want the country music experience try and get tickets for the Grand Ole Opry, it's a live show on several times a week with a real mix of old and new stars, or The Bluebird Cafe in Green Hills is a fun place to see live music as well.

NotMoreFootball Thu 07-Feb-13 03:42:01

TheCatintheHairnet - my son sleeps in a UK double bed and it looks ridiculously tiny compared to our huge American bed, can't believe me and DH both used to fit in a bed that size!!
I've heard there are some home insurance issues if you regularly use a transformer with your electrical goods, some insurers consider them a fire hazard apparently so be careful if you still use one!

smartieknickers Thu 07-Feb-13 03:52:22

Ooh thank you NotMore!
I'd also heard about the fire concern with transformers. I think you're fine if it's just for a kitchen blender that you're using from time to time and you're not leaving it switched on while you're not around, but I'd never use one for anything that is on all the time like a hifi or anything. They're a bit of a clunky (and not cheap) solution though so you're probably just better off replacing anything that isn't dual voltage.

NotMoreFootball Thu 07-Feb-13 04:20:35

Smartiesknickers - just thought of somewhere else you need to go when you're in Nashville. Opry Mills Mall, it's a really nice mall but all the shops are outlet prices, I was there today and got 3 tops in J Crew for $35 total and Gucci sunglasses in Sunglasses Hut for $50!!!

Want2bSupermum Thu 07-Feb-13 04:21:00

Oh yes - bed linen is a problem. DH has his Danish duvet and we have to buy stuff in denmark where it is stupid prices. I have an American duvet (Ikea) and it doesn't fit.

Brow 7 lots of visitors - OMG. I would die.

I am still euphoric from passing these exams. I can't quite believe I have finally finsihed up.

rootypig Thu 07-Feb-13 04:31:49

hello all! <waves>

am currently in the UK (London) but married to an American (he would say Californian hmm) and planning to move to LA this summer.

marking place so I can bother you all ask questions about shipping / shared containers and maybe make California pals! ( hi hi AmericasTorturedBrow )

Want2bSupermum Fri 08-Feb-13 10:49:04

welcome rooty! All I know about shipping is that it costs a lot of money and takes much longer than I expected it would.

rootypig Fri 08-Feb-13 13:27:36

thanks Supermum!
yes, looking at our load of crap beloved possessions I'm thinking it may be as well just to start over when we get to CA

NotMoreFootball Fri 08-Feb-13 14:05:49

We just shipped personal items such as photos, pictures, toys etc, I'm glad we didnt bother with the furniture as it would have looked really out of place in our house. Not quite sure why but American houses are just so different, maybe it's the open plan and higher ceilings but I think our stuff would have just looked like dolls house furniture!
Having said that, our container only took 4 weeks door to door, much quicker than I had thought and only arrived a week after the air freight so that turned out to be a waste of money.

123yipee Fri 08-Feb-13 14:21:06

Hello everyone, we moved to NJ 2 weeks ago. Everything is going well for us so far apart from finding somewhere to rent! At least we have a nice apartment to stay in whilst we continue to look.

goodbye we also brought all of our stuff with us, I think its currently clearing customs. Not that we are in any hurry for it until we find a house. I would bring tea, DH prefers leaf tea and I haven't seen any in the supermarkets yet. Although I will check out trader joes (thanks Want2).

Congratulations Want2 that's brilliant news. I can't believe you are going to take another exam before DC2 is born. That's serious dedication.

Brow good luck with all the visitors, thats a lot of changing of bed linen and towels!

rootypig Fri 08-Feb-13 14:27:09

NotMoreFootball can I ask who you used for shipping? I think as you say we will just have personal things (clothes, books, toys) and my aunt suggested shared container service the best option, cost wise? I am more concerned about cost than time, we are planning to travel inbetween packing up in London and getting to CA, iyswim, so would happily wait a month or two.

NotMoreFootball Fri 08-Feb-13 14:45:40

I can't remember which company we used unfortunately as it was organized by my husbands employer and they dealt with all the paperwork. Even if I could remember the name I wouldn't recommend them as they were OK with the European end but very sloppy at this end, we have used Interdean in the past for a different move and I remember being very impressed with them. Have also used Pickfords for an overseas move and that was a bit of a disaster, lots of broken furniture and unpleasant staff!

NotMoreFootball Fri 08-Feb-13 14:49:25

Spoke to soon, just seen some left over boxes in the garage and they have Atlantic Corporate Relocation on the side so that is who we used for this move! Time wise was great but service and care was lacking in my opinion.

skratta Fri 08-Feb-13 22:49:45

Can I join?

Live in Connecticut, currently stuck in doors because of blizzard warning and we've been banned from driving apparently, with people checking. So I'm pretty bored and on MN.

I love where I live, from a place right up in Swedish Lapland, so it's very different, and I love it over here.

Room for a newbie?

NotMoreFootball Sat 09-Feb-13 01:08:12

Hi Skratta, I'm just watching the 'Super Blizzard' on CNN, looks pretty scary! Are you Swedish?, I guess you must be used to the snow after living in Lapland, we had around 1/2 cm snow in Nashville last week and the whole place came to a standstill, as very funny!!

Kungfutea Sat 09-Feb-13 03:01:52

Hi skratta

It's not too bad here in NYC. I took the dog out earlier and we only had an inch on the ground with some of it was coming down as rain, it was the wind which was the problem.

Whereabouts in CT are you?

rootypig Sat 09-Feb-13 09:14:24

NotMoreFootball thank you so much for checking! incredibly kind. I will check out Interdean. it also helps to know to avoid ACR if poss.

rootypig Sat 09-Feb-13 09:16:13

123yipee if you're a chocolatey sort of person, I also found TJ's 'belgian' stuff an affordable European style chocolate. beware the huuuuuuge bars! grin

Want2bSupermum Sat 09-Feb-13 10:40:39

TJ's chocolate.... yummy. Also Target sell RitterSport for $1.97 a bar. It is very good - especially the milk chocolate and cornflakes one!

Hi Skratta, I didn't go outside yesterday at all. Here in Northern NJ I was expecting a couple of inches. We had at least half a foot. Have to say I am impressed with our town. They have been out clearing the streets already and putting salt down.

I am working today and start my leave on Monday. I am 39 weeks pregnant and HUGE! The change in air pressure really messed me up yesterday. My feet were very swollen and I had a horrible nose bleed yesterday afternoon. Obn was great though and came around to drop off a blood pressure machine. I am monitoriing my blood pressure three times a day now as they are worried about me developing preclampsia with this pregnancy. So thankful for the medical care here.

skratta Sat 09-Feb-13 11:06:33

Strictly speaking, Oxford, New Haven county, but staying with family Middlesbury, also in New Haven, and we've had 30 inches of snow roughly, with more falling. Meant to go home today, and back to work next day, but it's not going to happen at this rate.

Yes, I'm Swedish, so I guess I should be used to it, bit I think because every year we expected it, it was a lot easier in Sweden, here it's a blizzard, bans on driving and more and everyone, including myself, reacts in a c,pletely different way. Before, normal winters life. Now, it's extreme weather and apparently we're in a State of Emergency.

A tree came down, but apart from that DS, (5) and DD3 (8) are excited. DTDs, they're thirteen, are just moaning because it's too far to walk to their cousins houses and we can't drive them. Mind you, they moan at anything and everything....

skratta Sat 09-Feb-13 11:27:23

Woah, 39wks and working!

That sounds like the stuff of nightmares tbh, I can sympathise with the swollen feet, all three pregnancies, and it was horrible. Hope your blood pressure levels are okay, and I agree, medical care here is wonderful! Compared to Sweden at least...

rootypig Sat 09-Feb-13 13:30:45

Supermum oh GL for the birth! let us know how it goes. I worked to 39 weeks with DC1 born last November, and in a way thought it was nice, to have something to take my mind off being massive. though she was born a week late so I did get two weeks in bed scoffing biscuits relaxing. hope your blood pressure stays ok and you get some time to put your feet up too (though think this is your DC2 so that might be stuff of dreams! grin)

lookoveryourshouldernow Sat 09-Feb-13 14:27:29

Hi There,

Hope you don't mind me posting this in here - I did post in Chat but was probably the wrong place and it has now disappeared down and down the topics list..

..I am looking for a kind soul in the USA who maybe able to do spot of shopping for me in Costplus World Markets. I am looking for 12 little easter toys - which they display on their website but will not ship from the online store....

Can anyone help me - obviously willing to pay all costs and associated shipping costs + ++ ??

Thank You

Want2bSupermum Sun 10-Feb-13 03:21:47

hey everyone. Much to DH's annoyance I went into the office today and finished up all my work. My manager was there and took me aside to tell me that she is really impressed with the work I have done so she wants to put me up for promotion this year. Apparently the client I have been working at love me and have requested that I return.

Blood pressure was fine today. I think it was the weather. The doctor called me back at lunchtime to get my blood pressure readings and told me that she had spent the night delivering lots of babies.

While it is nice that I will be off work I have a lot to do. Must do taxes, sort our files out, buy a baby seat and get things set up for our DS. Oh and I have a lot of appointments next week. DD has her 18 month check up, an appointment with an ENT, an eye doctor, dentist appointment and I have my obn visit plus I need to get blood work done at the hospital. DH is away in Dallas Monday through Wednesday too.

Want2B that brilliant news, and a relief to know you have that to go back to.

Yay rooty to coming to LA! Feel free to ask questions away, though I'm sure you'll slot right in with a CA DH. How exciting (and glad to have another MNetter on the west coast)

I'm doing a mahoosive charity bike ride in June and have the mega fear about it so went for a training ride yesterday and it bloody rained! Do you know how often it rains here? Once in a frigging blue moon! Typical....

skratta Sun 10-Feb-13 11:57:23

That's great about the bp and the promotion! I remember going on mat leave and coming home from the last day of work, and seeing a big pile of forms and letters to reply to. My heart just sank.

markymark Sun 10-Feb-13 16:01:46

Hi - can I join in? We're just planning our move to San Francisco in July, so happily picking up tips here :-)

Yay another west coaster! Welcome markymark

Ps hope all the east coasters are doing ok xx

FringeEvent Sun 10-Feb-13 22:58:39

Hello to everyone already on this thread... I'm possibly, maybe, hopefully moving to CA later this year (DH in final stages of negotiation with new employer, it's all looking very good so I just need him to actually commit to the job offer so they can get on with preparing his visa application!) - anyway, I just wanted to mark my place here, as I'm going to have a million and one questions once the ball actually gets rolling! x

How are you FringeEvent? Drop me an email once you know if you're joining the riot family!

Haveacrumpet Mon 11-Feb-13 02:54:47

Hi everyone,
Can I join? I'm in Florida with American DH.
Quite like it here, but really struggling to make good friends. I'm ok starting up convos with people, but moving it to that next stage is proving tricky. Even when I do suggest meeting for a coffee, most people seem to say "yeh, sure", but then it never really happens. I swear it was never this hard in the uk!!!

Oh well, I won't give up grin

Want2bSupermum Mon 11-Feb-13 07:54:20

Hi everyone, I am still super excited by the feedback I got at work. I wasn't expecting it and took the job having been told that there was no way I would be promoted this year. I need to move up the ladder because down the road I need the flexibility the more senior positions offer to have the work life balance that I want.

crumpet I hear you on making friends here. I think the best thing to do is get involved with charity work. Like brow I do sport based charity stuff. I did a local 5km run last year and through work I have always done the JPM corporate challenge. It also helps having a super cute DD. People make and effort to invite her for playdates in part because when they come over I do stuff they don't necessarily want to do in their homes. Not many people here are up for letting their under 2's decorate their own pizza or do potato painting. It is a lot of effort and I am eternally tired but it has helped me. I joined our local mother and more group and found one other mother who I get on well with. The others were not my cup of tea but I am thankful for finding the one friend. If you don't have children it is much harder but the charity route is normally pretty good.

Having said that one of the things I have wanted to do is a meet up here in Northern NJ. It is looking like March at this point as my CS is booked for the 25th and I am fully booked for the next two weekends unless midweek works for everyone. We have a dog (a golden) so if you have allergies we need to pick a day with good weather so we can decamp to the park. I have my CS scheduled for the 25th......

FringeEvent Mon 11-Feb-13 13:56:27

Hello AmericasTorturedBrow! grin I'm ok, thank you - just feeling a bit fidgety this week, as I really want to get started on organising our move to CA. But DH is still 'considering' the offer (by which I mean he's keen, but is just being super diligent and making sure he's got satisfactory answers to all the questions he had following the interview and the proposal... I suppose I should be glad he's not just rushing headlong into it!). I'm completely up for it, and am feeling quite excited now that I've overcome most of the fears that were holding me back (thank you so much for the emails that helped me to get over this bump). I just want to crack on with the planning now, but am forcing myself to wait until he's officially said 'yes' to them. It's really frustrating! I'll hopefully have some news for you before the week is out. x

I'm sure he has A to ask any questions to buy if he wants another opinion email me and I'll put him in touch with DH

I've found it a weird experience making friends here, we have a handful of very good friends we made very quickly, some via friends of friends, some through DS preschool, some through DH work. But I think LA is a bit of an anomaly because it's SO transient - and to be honest I have so many numbers of random people in my phone, generally people I've met at the park, they se to give their number out willy Molly but rarely follow up

The trouble making friends thing is pretty much all of America. I too had a hard time with it, I made one through my SIL and then another through the boys starting Kindergarten together and that was it for many years, most are through the children and lately through the fitness studio I go to. But those aren't socializing type friends, just chatting and one has a child that plays with my Dd so we go to the park.
You'll hear a lot of "we should do lunch" or meet for Coffee, but it doesn't materialize. Americans who move to new areas can have the same thing happen quite often, in fact my friends here are mostly transplants from other parts themselves, only one is a local.

smartieknickers Tue 12-Feb-13 04:05:06

I totally agree about it being hard to make friends here. I know back home Brits have a reputation for having a bit of a tough exterior but here it's the opposite - lots of folk are outwardly very welcoming but often the offers to meet up for coffee or something never come to anything. I have been fairly lucky in Dallas so far but I also set up a meetup group on Meetup.com when we were in Houston and got to know lots of other expat mums that way. Definitely worth looking on Meetup to see if there's anything in your area and if there aren't any groups you fancy you can always set up your own...!

skratta Tue 12-Feb-13 17:03:04

Oh yes, making friends was so hard! Moving places in Sweden, Belfast, London- easy places to make friends. USA? No way. It's so hard, people are friendly, but for a while, you're still a stranger- people know you, but you don't go round for coffee or lunch, and it's just hard. I've met most of my friends via DH or work- work was the one thing which meant I made American friends, and although I have three or so close friends who are American (and two of them are from other states- as far as you can get from CT really), it feels like there's no one else to talk to. Nearly all of my friends who I meet outside of work/Dh are expats- although we're strong friends (most of them I've been friends with for five or six years, so comparatively, not long, but we're close) are from overseas!

Want2bSupermum Tue 12-Feb-13 18:39:53

Thinking about it I have made friends through work and yes a lot of friends are also from overseas. I met DH through friends I made playing darts in Hoboken.

I am scared of meetup. I think of the horror stories of wacko people who take part in these groups. I am also scared of craigslist while I am so pregnant. I had DH pick up baby things the other weekend. While part of me is being hormonal DH was understanding.

smartieknickers Tue 12-Feb-13 19:21:34

Want2b - I understand why you might be a bit wary of Meetup, but I've only ever got involved in mum/mom groups so not really the right profile for the axe-murderer type! smile
I have a separate email address that I use for it and I never share any of my personal details on group pages. Setting up my own group to meet other expat mums was the best thing I did - made lots of friends.

FSB Tue 12-Feb-13 22:24:43

So interesting what people have said about making friends... I was surprised by how hard it is to get past the chatting in the playground/swapping numbers for a play date (which usually never happens)..! I thought it was just californians being flakey because the two friends I have made (both out of state) commented on the same thing about People not following through. Bloody irritating tho!!

Want2bSupermum Tue 12-Feb-13 22:42:33

very true smartie. I told DH the other day that the longer i live in America the more paranoid I get. I think it might be the hormones though!

Kungfutea Wed 13-Feb-13 01:21:16

Just wondering if anyone knows what they call ready brek here? I really want to find an equivalent as its the only way my kids will eat porridge but even the stuff marketed for kids here isn't the same.

Kungfutea Wed 13-Feb-13 01:26:56

Agree about being hard to make friends btw. We're kind of lucky in NYC that people do move a lot so easier to make casual acquaintances especially through work and children's school. I don't usually feel lonely as we're always busy but I realized the other day when our babysitter bailed and dh and I couldn't go to the cinema together that I didn't have a friend who I could just call up on the spur of the moment and say 'fancy coming to the movies'. It's that kind of comfort level that I miss but I guess that takes time to acquire and I'm not naturally outgoing anyhow which doesn't help much (although moving so many times has kind of forced to get over that one somewhat!).

Want2bSupermum Wed 13-Feb-13 02:39:52

Kungfu It's called creamed wheat. It isn't bad. You know about Myers of Keswick? They nearly always have ready brek in. I think you can order it from amazon too. It is $10 a box or something silly.

We are really missing our families now we have DD and DS on the way. My Dad is flying over early this year and will be splitting his time between my sister on the West Coast and me here on the East Coast.

Want2bSupermum Wed 13-Feb-13 02:41:32

ooops pressed return too soon! I meant to add that I miss my friends so much too. One of my close friends had her baby four months after me and is due in April with her second. I would love for the babies to play together.

Kungfutea Wed 13-Feb-13 03:10:02

We have 'butchers block' in sunnyside which is cheaper than Myers of keswick so I stock up there (also Ribena, love it!) but I was hoping for a us version which would be cheaper and available in our local supermarket.

Isn't creamed wheat made out of wheat rather than oats? How have they not adopted the gorgeousness of ready brek here?? This place baffles me at times!

smartieknickers Wed 13-Feb-13 03:20:03

Kungfutea I don't think there is an equivalent to Readybrek. Cream of Wheat / Creamed Wheat isn't quite the same - it's made from wheat, not oats. I guess you could make a similar idea by whizzing up ordinary dry oatmeal in a food processor to make a powder and then treating it like Ready Brek? Come to think of it I might give that a try...

Kungfutea Wed 13-Feb-13 03:24:42

My dd started to do that and it's not bad but it's a kerfaffle in the morning and you end up with oats flying everywhere (well, we did!). I saw that they use oat flour and oat bran in ready brek so that might be the way to go. Or I might just pop to Sunnyside!

It's a bit weird to me to have British food in the ethnic section. I always think of ethnic food as being a bit exotic: chinese or Indian or Caribbean. I guess it makes sense that it's considered ethnic but just seems a bit odd to have hob nobs, tea bags and custard powder in what I'd always thought of as the more exciting part of the supermarket!

Want2bSupermum Wed 13-Feb-13 03:31:57

Ah creamed wheat wouldn't be made from oats - your right. Try the bob mills section. I tried it with DD when I was weaning her. It wasn't too far off ready brek. It was one of their hot cereals that they do and I thought it was creamed wheat. It might be their barley grits.... or their oat bran

smartieknickers Wed 13-Feb-13 04:03:34

You can also buy Ready Brek on Amazon (for a ridiculous price)

FSB Wed 13-Feb-13 05:11:49

Kung fu, your post made me laugh.. I stumbled on the "burridish" aisle in our local supermarket a few weeks after we arrived - birds custard, Yorkshire tea, spotted dick in a can(!!)... The sad thing is, I don't think I've eaten anything on the shelf... Whereas I can't get edible crumpets or Heinz baked beans anywhere!! Grr [rant over] hmm

smartieknickers Wed 13-Feb-13 14:09:06

Baked beans also available on Amazon...

NatashaBee Wed 13-Feb-13 14:43:25

Kroger Vegetarian Beans are the same as baked beans. Not sure how they compare to Heinz but they are certainly a good substitute for the tesco own brand beans I bought in the UK, especially at 74 cents a can instead of the $3 per can for Heinz Beans in Meijer!

markymark Wed 13-Feb-13 15:25:48

This has made me want baked beans for tea while I can still get them smile

Having a bit of a wobble this afternoon as I've been shredding a load of paperwork in preparation for the move - including birthplans for both DC, selling my old flat, buying our house....making me a bit nostalgic - if you can be nostalgic for stuff that has happened so recently!

Make sure you all sign up for the emails and stuff from Cost plus World Market, they send you coupons for $10 of when you spend $30 a few times each year, and then I go in and stock up, if you live near keep watching their sales and end caps in the back of the shop for clearance, I get all our Jam, Marmalade, Pataks curry, Custard powder, Bisto, Mcvities etc etc.

NotMoreFootball Wed 13-Feb-13 18:19:52

WholeFoods has fabulous crumpets, not the muffin type that you have to slice in half but real British ones!

smartieknickers Wed 13-Feb-13 19:05:23

I have never seen a crumpet in Whole Foods! Must go and scour the shelves tomorrow...

Want2bSupermum Wed 13-Feb-13 20:00:11

Kings supermarket was owned by M&S. I rememeber the deal coming accross my desk at work. I went home that night and raided the store. Such a shame they sold the company because the prices were very reasonable and a lot of things were cheaper here than they were in the UK.

rootypig Wed 13-Feb-13 21:54:40

hello all! sorry, I lost this thread from ones I'm on, but have poked around in my settings and here you all are grin

Brow, where in LA do you live, can I ask?

Squinkies thanks for the cost plus tip. I love Birds.... from past experience living in california, I am going to miss M&S the most! and butter.

Want2bSupermum Thu 14-Feb-13 03:28:28

Rooty Butter is quite easy to find. Quite a few places have lurpak and Trader Joes carries Kerrygold. DH, being Danish strongly prefers lurpak but I buy kerrygold because it is $2.69 at trader joes. Lurpak is almost double the price at $5.

I'm being a bit rubbish keeping up but Trader Joes also does crumpets! I didn't really miss them til my mum brought some over a few months ago, along with damson jam, Heaven.

I'm on the West LA/Santa Monica border rooty

rootypig Thu 14-Feb-13 10:56:54

Supermum wow! I never saw Kerrygold for less than six bucks where we lived, but maybe because it was a smallish town (Santa Cruz CA). now I feel much calmer smile

oh Brow we might end up being near you then! DH just waiting to hear if he has got into doctoral programme at UCLA (fingers crossed)

Want2bSupermum Thu 14-Feb-13 17:34:08

TJ is brilliant as it is owned by Aldi. They have things like lemon curd which I don't think you could get anywhere else.

Kungfutea Thu 14-Feb-13 17:48:47

TJ's has some nice stuff but I find them a bit pretentious and also pricey for basics - although agree about the crumpets!

Some other odd things about US groceries are the lack of caster sugar (not stocked in regular supermarkets near me) and the disappointing range of flour (no whole wheat self raising). I also can't seem to find cream of tartar.

I bought a breadmaker and started making my own bread. I can't stand the regular bread here - it's disgustingly sweet and 'artisan' bread is too pricey so I just make my own. Bung some water, salt, flour and yeast into the breadmaker, set the timer and we wake up to freshly baked bread every morning!

Want2bSupermum Thu 14-Feb-13 18:38:26

I use superfine sugar for caster sugar and have found it in pathmark, shoprite and kings (I have the stuff by domino which comes in a cardboard box). Cream of tartar - found it at Kings. I order flour online or buy from Kings/shoprite. I checked my cupboard... the cream of tartar is by king arnold flour.

Bread is an issue here. I won't eat anything that doesn't go stale and mouldy in 10 days (I had pepperridge out for 6 months and it still wasn't mouldy). We buy boxes of rye bread from ikea and get the TJ 6g of fiber per slice bread (this is how I identify the bread because I can never remember the name).

Agree that TJ is pricey for a lot of things. Their fresh fruit, veg is horrible and the meat is overpriced.

smartieknickers Fri 15-Feb-13 00:56:47

KungfuTea I've looked for wholemeal bread flour and couldn't find it anywhere, but (surprise surprise) I was able to order it on Amazon! Can you tell I love Amazon? We make our own bread in the bread maker as can't stand the fact that so much sugar and salt is added to the stuff you get here. We do treat ourselves to the odd artisan loaf from Whole Foods though... (no Trader Joes near us - boo)
You can easily make your own self raising flour by adding baking powder to plain / all purpose flour.
I trailed round all over the place for ages looking for cream of tartar and eventually resorted to getting friends and family from the UK to bring it with them. However I have recently discovered that practically all of our local supermarkets sell it, but it's in with all the herbs and spices and not in the baking section!

smartieknickers Fri 15-Feb-13 00:58:55

Oh and most of the standard sugar I've bought here is fine enough to be called caster sugar (not a term used here), or you can get superfine which seems to = caster.

Yay rooty in very close to the main UCLA campus!

I heart TJ and find my shop is much cheaper there than at Ralph's...what's Kings though? Trouble is in LA everything is expensive, TJ is our cheap grocery shop!

Agree on bread, it's horrid and the butter too

Want2bSupermum Sat 16-Feb-13 04:01:47

Kings is a supermarket here in NJ/NY area that used to be owned by M&S. They are a client of my new employer and I am on the team so I get to see a little more of the workings behind the supermarket (ie their shop employees are all union). I like their stores because they tend to be smaller. I HATE big stores. I don't have 45mins to shop.

Speaking of which I nearly had a breakdown in babies r us today. Since Monday I have been trying to buy a new car seat that will work with the 2nd base we already have for my car. The one I want is $90 at babies r us and $80 everywhere else but takes up to 3 weeks to be shipped (after they told me in December and last week of January it was available in the store or ship to home in a week). Then there is the issue of using our giftcards. eGift cards can only be redeemed online and you can only redeem up to 5 gift cards against one purchase.

So today I go to the store to pick out a car seat as today is my due date. I called ahead and they gave me a list of models they had in the store. As I am HUGE I can't lift the huge box and asked for help. No one helps me so I go to the front desk to pick up the things I ordered online using the egift cards. Not able to pick up because the email was sent to DH and not to me. Arghhhhhh!!! I ask the girl for help with putting the car seat that is sitting on the shelf into the trolley. Low and behold, we finally get to the car seat to find that someone else has since been by and picked it up. Of course in a store that is at least 5000 sq ft they don't have a 2nd one. The only other Graco is $190. Double arghhhhh....

I have 8 $20 gift ecards plus another gift card with $80 on it. So I have enough to fully cover the cost of the more expensive car seat BUT I can't use the ecards in the store. I come home to order the more expensive one online and do the ship to store. It isn't an option.

And they wonder why people buy car seats 2nd hand!

anonymosity Sun 17-Feb-13 04:33:34

Hey AmericasTorturedBrow - I am also Westside LA / Santa Monica. Have you been to the continental store on Wiltshire - and aprox 17th St in Santa Monica? It has British foods and drinks - marmite, ribena (yuk yuk), tea cups (!) and custard powder - all that stuff.
Its a bit disturbing as they play benny hill videos on the overhead TV and its like walking into a 1970's time warp, but they have the specific UK things you might want (for a price).

Hi anon! Yay a MNetter close to me! No, not been to that continental store...to be honest I mainly miss bacon, welsh lamb and proper sausages - visitors bring me chocs, Percy pigs, crumpets, sudocream etc

How long have you been in LA?

anonymosity Sun 17-Feb-13 05:57:08

This is our 4th year. I don't come onto mumsnet very often - I will write on it and then be absent 6+ months. I find I write in the middle of everyone else's night and miss most of the conversations taking place (in the UK)!

I don't think I have ever seen welsh lamb here - what a treat that would be...

I only miss my parent's cooking, and puy lentils which I have never found here at all.

How long have you been here?

Want2bSupermum Sun 17-Feb-13 16:35:19

anon puy lentils are in our local whole foods in the self serve section. I LOVE them too.

Welsh lamb. I have been begging my friends parents to start exporting here. I really miss Welsh lamb. What they call lamb here is often mutton. Drives me nuts.

Want2bSupermum Sun 17-Feb-13 16:43:29

Tortured DH can help you out with bacon.... Here on the east coast he sells into Tommy Malones (available in shoprite). Will ask him who he sells into on the West Coast. Irish bacon isn't bad but DH doesn't trust the Irish (he was not shocked about the horse meat scandal at all) and only products from certain Irish suppliers are allowed in the house. If he isn't selling into the West Coast he will know who is.

I am a very lucky girl that DH brings home the bacon - in a literal sense!

goodbyeyellowbrickroad Sun 17-Feb-13 19:59:32

Feeling a bit sad this evening as we said goodbye to my folks for the last time before we move. Bit silly really as we'll be seeing them about 5 weeks after we move as we're back in the UK for a week. Just made it all very definite.

123yipee Mon 18-Feb-13 00:33:38

Know how you feel goodbye we did this 3 weeks ago. It does make it all very 'real'. Hope the move goes well. For us it was more chaotic before we moved compared to now we are here.

Does anyone have any advice on how to pick a doctor for DS. We have been given access to a website with all the in-network doctors. But how on earth do we pick one? He needs a doctor on his pre-school registration form so it would be great to get one this week.

goodbye that is really tough, I cried buckets at the airport when we moved, hope the move goes well though!

Want2B that would be AMAZING! My American friends just don't get it - if I can get hold of some British bacon, I'll ask my folks to buy DH a bread maker for his birthday (I bought him a juicer, god we've become so Californian!) then it's just some decent butter and bacon butties round mine!

anon we're coming up to a year - whole foods on San Vicente in Brentwood does puy lentils in the DIY section and I think you might be able to get them in the co-op on Broadway in Santa Monica....

Kungfutea Mon 18-Feb-13 01:15:48

123

I looked at reviews online. If you have a local Internet forum, you can ask on there and if you know why parents locally, ask them. I know Americans also interview their pediatricians when pregnant to find the right one but I've never gone that far!

We asked for recommendations from people at DHs work

anonymosity Mon 18-Feb-13 03:57:13

Ah! Thank you ATB - we do go to Whole Foods in Brentwood sometimes, so I will definitely check that out.

Want2bSupermum Mon 18-Feb-13 10:57:04

Can't sleep anymore.....

It is funny that food is one of the things I miss most about the UK. I really miss Easter eggs even though when I lived in the UK I never bought them because I thought they were the biggest waste of money. I always got 2 or 3 (smarties, caramel and twirl) from family.

Tortured DH doesn't supply the West coast so he is going to find out who does. He isn't working today as its Presidents Day.

rootypig Tue 19-Feb-13 03:38:20

Brow, just heard that clever DH got into UCLA doctorate programme. wahhh! so we are moving...... now all seeming very real. will probably send him out ahead of me / our baby in the sumer, to sort out a place to rent and car for the autumn. DON'T fancy being a prisoner at my MIL's (in Costa Mesa) for two weeks while he fannies about confused

yes I always found TJ's the cheapest in Cali - I'm sure I once paid six bucks for four tomatoes in Safeway! was angry. you can get brilliant food in California but god knows why produce can be so expensive - just like here, but at least the stuff we grow here is pretty cheap!

goodbye that's ever so hard, am dreading it. so hard to take DC away from family sad

Thanks for asking Want2b! Hope you got some sleep in the end

Rooty that's very exciting! How old is your baby? Whoop we shall have to arrange an LA meet up with anon

Kungfutea Tue 19-Feb-13 15:26:38

Congratulations to your DH rooty. I did a PhD in a US university, it was a fabulous experience, I loved it. If you can live in family accommodation, I highly recommend it. We did and although the housing was very simple (they were old army barracks!) the community and support around us was wonderful. What's his PhD in?

Haveacrumpet Tue 19-Feb-13 19:17:14

Hi all,
Sorry not to name check, but thanks to all for sharing their experiences re: making friends. It makes me feel 10 times better that it isn't just me!! Was becoming a tad paranoid. I will check out meetup and see what else might be worth joining. No kids yet so parenting things are out.

Feel for those of you preparing to say goodbye (for now) to loved ones - I am a puffy, red mess every time I leave my DM and DF. But once I'm back stateside, I'm fine, generally. My parents visit in a few weeks - I can't wait!! Which reminds me... I need to buy a bed for them to sleep in! Have been meaning to do it since September, but haven't quite got around to it confused

Want2bSupermum Tue 19-Feb-13 20:10:17

Brow On the west coast DH has been selling into Fresh and Easy. He said it might say Canadian bacon on the label. He can't quite remember how they packaged it for them.

rootypig Tue 19-Feb-13 22:56:18

Thanks, Brow and kungfu! He will be in the information studies programme (hmm) - that is noooot very helpful to say the least so I will say his background is in computing and design and I would describe him as a digital artist. Specifically, community art / social practice, using digital technology. He did his undergrad at UCLA and MFA at UCSC so will be a true product of the UC system! he wants to be an academic so this is fab news for him and hopefully will lead to a job, eventually.... family accommodation would be wonderful, we won't be in a position to even think about buying a place until I get a job. We need to look into these things, and see if there's any childcare support too. and apply for my green card! lots to get on with.

kungfu what and where did you study?

Brow I would love an LA meetup! our DD is 15 weeks, so she'll be 9 or 10 months when we move.

rootypig Tue 19-Feb-13 22:57:25

grr posted too soon. meant to ask Brow if you have DC and what your job is

brew

Oh Fresh and East they are supposed to be part of Tesco, It's an hour to the nearest one to me, so haven't been yet.

Want2bSupermum Wed 20-Feb-13 00:48:57

Fresh and Easy are Tesco, just not as successful! I would call ahead of time to make sure they stock it. DH also suggested Williams Pork. He met him at a food exhibition somewhere. DH recalled that he ships back bacon around the country.

Oh boo we've already tried the fresh and easy bacon, was sweet cured sad but will look out for the other guy

rooty I have 2DC, aged 4yo and 15mo. My visa currently doesn't let me work but DHs employers are processing green cards for all 4 of us. I'm a theatre director and will at least be directing a piece end of this year unpaid to keep my hand in and start making contacts

Want2bSupermum Thu 21-Feb-13 03:03:04

Brow I am surprised to hear it is sweet cured. I told DH off because that isn't proper bacon! He said the stuff he supplies into them isn't sweet cured and that origin should be Denmark (he sounded pretty confident about the product code). He said that Tesco USA source from a few places as DH's employer send so much of their production to the UK. IF DH is able to get the go ahead to start a direct sales website I will def post it on here.

Very cool about your work. LA must be a great place for you.

Well we could try again but it was "British cut" bacon, not proper bacon, if you know what I mean....aren't fresh and easy on the way out now? Or have tesco just sold it? Never thought Danish bacon was as good as British wink

Monadnock Thu 21-Feb-13 13:19:20

Has anyone tried using UK power tools (electric screwdriver and detail sander, for example) with a transformer in the US?
Also, I had a mover giving me a quote and they reckoned two weeks for shipping furniture to the East Coast. Is that unlikely?

FelicityMerriman Thu 21-Feb-13 13:31:39

I don't post on here very often but love to lurk - even though I have been here for ever I still empathize with the comments about making friends.

Anyway on the bacon thing, there is someone fairly local to me who moved here to marry his American girlfriend, couldn't get bacon and ended up retraining as a butcher and setting up Spencers. If you can get beyond the awful name he does ship bacon, sausages and black pudding.
The bacon is too trimmed of fat for my liking but it is definitely as close to British as you can get.

Kungfutea Thu 21-Feb-13 15:51:07

rooty
I did a social science phd at a small east coast ivy.

We have a week off now for mid winter recess. Beautiful, albeit cold, weather outside, we have the riches of new York on our doorstep, I have taken the day off work .... and I can't get my kids to leave the house. I asked them what they wanted to do and they insist they want to stay and play at home so they're down in the basement playing with their toys and the gerbils (we unexpectedly have gerbil babies - we were only meant to have make gerbils!). I feel bad, almost as though we're wasting the day, but I guess if they're happy I should make the most of an easy day? I feel guilty! We should be doing somehting!

rootypig Fri 22-Feb-13 10:20:59

hi Kungfu, another social scientist here! (though more social than scientist hmm)

I did politics and economics undergrad and law masters - hoping to get involved in criminal justice policy in California. what are you doing for work?

sorry, being nosy!

am very interested in the bacon discussion, I often wonder why all US bacon is streaky. do they use the back for ham, is that why?

juneau Fri 22-Feb-13 10:26:49

You can buy British goods in Tea & Sympathy in the village (17th St and 7th Ave I think? Near St Vincent's Hosp anyway). I also used to able to buy proper British Heinz baked beans at Kings in Hoboken. Not sure if it's still there after the huge floods in Oct, but they used to have a whole British foods section. Bit of a schlep from Queens tho'.

Want2bSupermum Fri 22-Feb-13 13:32:26

Rooty DH has told me many times why US bacon is streaky. It is a different cut, I can't remember the exact cut as pork talk tends to go in one ear and straight out the other! What is interesting is that Danish pork is much lower in fat compared to other pork due to the rearing methods being different.

Brow The problem with Danish is that what you see in the supermarket is lower end bacon. The good stuff is sold into high end restaurants with the remainder going to specialty butchers. Also, the 'British' stuff you see in the supermarket normally comes from a corporate farm, based in the UK but run by a foreign company. It drives DH nuts that this allowed. The hogs aren't even British, they raise them in Ireland/Germany/France/Poland and bring them as weiners to the UK. They then spend 3-5 months being fattened up here in the UK and voila its 'British' Pork. As DH says, if you were talking babies they wouldn't be consider British!

Oh noooooo want2b you're destroying me!!! wink

Want2bSupermum Fri 22-Feb-13 16:42:32

Gosh - Reading back I see I know far too much about pork! DH 'makes' bacon in his spare time. He doesn't have a full smoker yet, just because I need DH to help around the house and I don't want smoke around the babies. In a couple of years, once the babies are more indepedent I will get him the smoker of all smokers... just so he doesn't go back to playing golf.

Brow Imagine having a DH who sleep talks about pork. Bacon has come up a few times.

FringeEvent Mon 25-Feb-13 17:07:34

DH is still in the negotiation stage with the new employer in Santa Monica, but everything's looking really good so far, and they have to finalise the contract in the next few weeks so they can get on with preparing the visa application before 1 April. I'm still bouncing off the walls with frustration at how little I can do at the moment, but at least I can see our plans taking shape... slowly!

I've begun making a list all the items in our house, so we can decide what we're going to take, sell, dispose of, etc. Gutted to realise my slowcooker isn't compatible with the US electrical system, it's a really nice one which we were given as a wedding present less than a year ago. Should I bring it anyway and look into getting a transformer? I don't really understand the different systems. Realistically we might never use the slow cooker again if it stays behind in the UK, but it would feel wrong to sell a generous wedding gift, and I'm thinking if I ask my mum to look after it she might get some use of out if.

I'd put the slow cooker in storage at your Mums and buy new electrical stuff, it's cheap enough here.
Difference in electrics, ours is 110 your is 240 so here the kettle takes all day to boil unless you get a good one.

FringeEvent Mon 25-Feb-13 22:52:48

Thanks Squinkies - I've been reading into it a bit more this afternoon, and all the advice I've found online backs up what you've said and what I've already been told by friends who've moved out there - there's just no point in taking most electrical items. I'm just a bit sad about the slow cooker in particular, because it was a gift. Oh dear, I've just remembered that I still have to check the sticker on my hand blender, which I'm also rather fond of - I'll bet that's going to have to stay behind too... sad

We left electrical stuff that we wanted to keep at my mums to be honest, just one or two digi radios etc.

Word of warning re slow cookers - my diet has changed massively since we moved, I don't think I've made one casserole/stew/Tagine in the year since we moved. We are however now proud owners of a full on masticating juicer.

We celebrated a year in California on Saturday with the first BBQ of 2013 in our garden! Happy LAnniversary to me!

Want2bSupermum Tue 26-Feb-13 09:08:32

So i finally had my baby. I was 10 days over and welcomed Philip into the world yesterday. He is the talk of the nursery as he weighed in at 10lb 6oz! Thank goodness I had a CS!

Brow Congrats on your 1yr anniversary. It is so true that your diet changes when you move over. We do a lot of BBQ.

Fringe I wouldn't bring over anything electrical. Take a look on amazon at the cost of replacing the items. If the amount is significant and your DH is still figuring out their package it is worth inlcuding it. The guys who are moved over with DH's employer get an allowance of $3,000 to cover the cost of replacing electrical items.

rootypig Tue 26-Feb-13 09:56:27

gracious! congrats, Supermum, on your lovely enormous baby! thank god for CS. Have some thanks and a brew.

Yay congrats Want2b and massive welcome to the world Philip!

FringeEvent Wed 27-Feb-13 00:26:49

Congratulations to Want2bSupermum, that's awesome news! xx

Happy anniversary, AmericasTorturedBrow grin

These electrical bits and bobs - I know most of it can be replaced pretty cheaply, I just get too sentimentally attached to stuff! Especially my kitchen things. A new Dualit blender of the exact same model and colour wouldn't be MY blender. I need to get a grip, don't I blush Interesting point on the slow cooker, though. I don't expect I'll rush out to buy a duplicate of every single thing I left behind anyway, but it will be interesting to see which items I find I'm missing (or not) as time goes by.

Kungfutea Wed 27-Feb-13 01:24:45

Congratulations supermum. That's one big bubba! My second was a 10lb-er as well and I felt every bit of her pass through my ladybits smile I hope that you and little Phillip are doing well.

Want2bSupermum Thu 28-Feb-13 03:52:03

Thank you everyone. I am very thankful that my obn talked me into a planned CS. I was induced with DD and ended up with an emcs. This recovery has been much quicker than with DD. It has been impossible to keep up with feeding this 10lber so I switched to formula today. I have a low blood count and the bf was too much. If my blood counts don't improve tomorrow morning I will need a blood transfusion before I go home.

I have to say that the aftercare here has been amazing but I am looking forward to going home tomorrow evening. I have missed DD so much and I can't wait to see her on Friday morning.

rootypig Thu 28-Feb-13 10:47:22

ouch, KungFu! have some belated thanks for your 10lber too. DD was 8lb2oz and I thought that was plenty enough.

Supermum glad to hear you are getting the care you need. Hope your bloods do improve. My Irish granny would give you a glass of guinness! grin

Kungfutea Thu 28-Feb-13 12:47:34

Actually the birth of dd2 (and with no pain relief - not even gas and air!) was a really positive experience compared with dd1 (failed epidural) who was about 8lbs. Nowhere near as long and painful. I guess once its all been stretched out down there, an extra lb or two doesn't make much difference grin

rootypig Thu 28-Feb-13 18:44:18

oh well that's something to look forward to grin

Want2bSupermum Thu 28-Feb-13 22:53:57

Good news is that bloods are good enough for me to go home. I have been put on different prenatals that they want me to take for the next nine months. The obn told me the prenatals she has given me are normally given to mothers carrying multiples. I did ask about the guiness and my obn suggested against it due to gas pains. She said if I was to drink anything carbonated I should take 2 gasx before and after or I would be in agony.

I can't wait to get home and have a shower. In the morning I plan to have breakfast with my little girl. I am limited in what I can do with DD for the next week or so but I can't wait to give her a huge hug.

Oh and it will be so lovely introducing your children to each other - we were so worried about DS meeting DD but he ran straight to her and immediately fell in love!

anewdispensation Sat 02-Mar-13 00:19:57

lurking here.. congrats on your baby want2bsupermum.. you must be so pleased. I am currently in the UK and we may be moving to Houston with my work next year so taking it all in. My brother lives there currently so at least I have family. I am going for a reccie in the summer.

123yipee Sat 02-Mar-13 13:46:39

Congratulations Want2 that's brilliant news. Glad that you are both doing well, hope you had a lovely breakfast with DD this morning smile

rootypig Sat 02-Mar-13 21:39:36

Brow just realised I never replied to your answer blush I thought I had, but clearly imagined it, sorry. Fingers crossed for green cards! I bet there is lots of exciting theatre in LA? I don't think people realise what a diverse cultural scene there is away from Hollywood. do you feel there are good prospects for your work once you have your papers?

Thanks Rooty there def is a theatre scene, obviously not like London or NYC but no dissimilar to say Manchester or Bristol on a sliding scale, lots of people making different types of theatre and audiences seemingly willing to travel across town to catch it. There's plenty of broadway and international transfers but there seems to also be a burgeoning underground movement supporting more fringe style work

rootypig Mon 04-Mar-13 17:25:47

I've heard that, a friend was just involved in this: www.bloombaby.com/collection/spec.php?sID=83 which looked utterly bonkers

rootypig Mon 04-Mar-13 17:26:42

ha wrong link! that is our new cot - ebay steal grin

this, Brow, is what I meant to post www.sneakynietzsche.com/

Want2bSupermum Tue 05-Mar-13 02:47:44

Thank you everyone. Breakfast didn't go as planned but most importantly DD seems to be coping very well with DS. DH has been fab with her. I am finding it tough that I can't pick her up. She isn't one to sit on my lap. She wants to be held as I walk around.

Brow Friends of ours met in LA while doing theatre. I love it when they talk about it.

Regarding bacon... DH informs me that Costco should have 'Irish' bangers in (made with American pork I think). They also have centre cut bacon in which is close to back bacon. I think DH said the bacon is Canadian but he said it was good. Not sure if it is going into the West Coast but if you are a member it is worth taking a look.

FlipFantasia Tue 05-Mar-13 04:24:19

Want2be huge congrats on the birth of DS!! What a great weight he is and I'm so happy to hear that DD is loving her new little brother grin. I hope you enjoy the adjustment to life as a family of 4 smile

Rooty grin at the cot link - looks like a great bargain!

Torturedbrow so glad to hear that you've got leads in the theatre word. One of my NCT buddies in London is a theatre director so I always think it seems so madly glamourous (despite her assurances that it's not!). Can't believe you've been a year in the States already!

Sorry I've been such a lurker lately - RL is busy and time is just flying...in other news we put an offer in on a house today shock.

We're renting but our landlord is open to ending the lease early if we find a good house. So after months of obsessing over properties online and going to open houses we've decided to try and get our hands on a fixer upper near where we're renting.

The asking price is way too high for the work that needs doing so we'll have to wait and see if we can agree on a fair price. Luckily FIL is a general contractor and had a look at the place today and agreed the work looks to be mostly cosmetic. Still, nail biting time for us. So I of course have eaten two creme eggs that a friend mailed over in the birthday package she sent the kids (in the next few weeks my boy turns 3 and my girl turns 1 and my mum will be over from Ireland to celebrate both birthdays with us smile). Thank god for creme eggs!

Big waves to everyone else. I hope life is well whatever part of the States you're in.

rootypig Thu 07-Mar-13 22:41:09

Flip it was £64! still grin grin grin

about this bacon business - it's on the news in UK today that it kills you anyway, so maybe we should all jack it in grin <<whispers so Supermum's DH can't hear>>

mamasr Thu 07-Mar-13 23:53:08

Hello all.. I've just read through this whole thread, We are currently thinking about a move to the LA area in 2014 depending on DP work.. he would be employed on a 9 month contract so I think we'd do the 9 months then decide if we wanted to move permanently or go back to the UK in time for DS to start education here etc. We are not yet married (and doubt we will for a few years yet) but have DS (2) together - does anyone know if this would this affect our visa applications? also is it unlikely I would qualify for a green card? Your stories are getting me very excited and making me want a bacon sandwich

anonymosity Fri 08-Mar-13 02:22:04

If your DP is on a contract he'll need a visa with it - he could stay if the visa was extended, or if the company sponsored him for a greencard and started the process immediately (the cost for a family of 4 is about $20,000). So permanence is dependent on a few factors. Also if you're not actually married I don't know that you could get on the greencard process (but your kids probably could). You should find out more from his company, maybe?

Want2bSupermum Fri 08-Mar-13 13:22:55

rooty hahaha! Everything kills us. I guess the 'research' is about the use of nitrates in bacon. DH avoida ham/bacon that has a rainbow on it. It means it is pumped with a salt solution which contains phosphates/nitrates which are not good for you.

mamasr I think you need to be married to come over. If it is a 9 month contract then he will probably be on a H1B visa. As you are unmarried your best bet would be to come over on a student visa. If you register at a community college the classes shouldn't be too expensive. Alternatively you could just get married. As a student I think you can only do limited working hours but if you marry and come over on the H visa I am quite sure you won't be able to work.

goodbyeyellowbrickroad Fri 08-Mar-13 14:38:48

Well we're here in Houston! Arrived this week and are slowly finding our feet.

Thanks again for all the moving tips. In the end we shipped everything bar electricals over. So now the house hunt begins whilst we're in a serviced apartment for the next 4 weeks. Does anyone know how long it takes to get a lease agreed on a property once you've found one you like? We're supposed to have a realtor assigned to us by DH company but his HR dept have been pretty poor in getting this arranged for us.

Priority for today - buy a hairdryer and find a hairdressers.

Welcome to America yellowbrickroad! In our experience renting houses and timelines was pretty similar to UK

Want want2b said about visas etc. we're married so I'm here in the spousal visa (H4) attached to DH's H1B visa - I can't work on this. If your DP only had a 9month contract he'd more than likely be on a H1B too so it would be up to his company to extend the job and visa beyond 9months. Also children don't start school here til 5yrs old so you wouldn't need to rush any decisions

Want2bSupermum Fri 08-Mar-13 19:10:00

Welcome yellowbrickroad Take a look in TK Maxx for hairdryers. I got my ion one for $30 from there and it was $150 everywhere else. It is an amazing hairdryer and still going strong 7 years later.

mamasr Fri 08-Mar-13 21:59:00

Thanks for all those replies! I shall look into it a little more. I cruelly had a 5 year student visa in 2006 but I ended up only actually staying in USA for about 6months due to family reasons so will need to check if I'd be granted another - if not I'm sure I'll be able to occupy my time not working just thought it would be a handy way to meet people whilst earning a little bit of money! Will be watching the thread out of interest & hope I'll be able to move over at some point!

mamasr Fri 08-Mar-13 21:59:38

Not cruelly *actually!

Fresh n easy is the place for bacon smile Trader Joes has nice sausages.

boo, I like fresh and easy bacon.

maybe I'll have to try it again, was very unimpressed with it before! I like TJ's sausages, but none of them come close to a proper British banger!

I'm missing home at the moment, not so much the UK (chance would bea fine thing, I'll 25degrees of sunshine over snow any day) but all the people who reside there

No true, I like the hoffbrau ones a lot though.

I think we can get frozen Brit style sausages here, we used to be able. We are happy with the TJ ones though.

I miss Thorntons though, but it is probably a very good thing I can't get it here.

Costco has Irish sausage in for St Patrick's day.
Also Marks and Spencer has free shipping to US and Canada right now, no idea how long for. But I'm getting new bras at last, and added knickers to the order too grin

So here's a question, I've been sniffing around the credit crunch threads as after a year of spending every penny then horrifically clearing out our entire savings on tax, we need to start being sensible.

Where would you go for the equivalent of aldi/lidl etc? I think the TJ debate was interesting, I think they are cheaper than Ralph's where are, Vons doesn't seem much different. I tend to only go to Costco every six months for wipes, bog roll etc - anyone done a calculation to see if other stuff (food?) is cheaper?

I'm wary of animal standards so do tend to buy more expensive meat but much less of it. But I get totally tempted and influenced by the farmers markets for veg (though if you go to the right ones I dont think they're any dearer than Ralph's)

Any thoughts or tips?!

rootypig Wed 13-Mar-13 06:29:52

Brow have you considered CSA (community share agriculture) for veggies? we did that in Santa Cruz and am sure it was much cheaper but then, you can't choose what you get (though do get a few days advance warning of what to expect).

Kungfutea Wed 13-Mar-13 10:52:35

If you have a Chinatown near you, go there to shop for fresh produce (wouldnt get meat there - although it definitely looks fresh - but do get fish). It is sooooo much cheaper than in the regular supermarkets. We got whole papayas for 60 cents each last week!

our chinatown doesn't really exist unfortunately, we do have Little Tokyo which is a schlep away but I live right by Little Osaka - they don't seem to have a market as such, the supermarkets are fairly cheap but I have NO idea what to do with most of the stuff (would love to learn), it very much caters for the Japanese community

Will look into CSA, thanks rooty

Any thoughts on Costco v anywhere else? We live right by a Smart and Final, must go there more often for pasta, cheese, bread (bleurgh) and other staple itms in bulk

We did some calculations and found a few things cheaper at Costco, but I don't do the whole shop there.
Each area is probably different, but for us.
Milk is cheapest at CVS (handy for us as it's pretty close)
Greek yogurt at Costco
Bread Costco
Granola bars Costco
Eggs, I wait for a sale at Safeway (I go there on the same day as Costco)
Pork chops taste better from Costco and are similar price to Safeway sale price.
Ground beef I get Costco and bag it all and freeze, same with pork chops.
School lunch box drinks and a few other bits for Dd are from Costco
Once a month we trek to Winco, they are cheapest on boxes of cereal, canned foods, pasta sauce, pasta, rice. Most dry goods actually. They have a nice veg section at the one we go to, we always get lots of apples carrots etc. Their free range eggs are cheap too.

Oh Smart and final nearest to us is dire. I drive past and go to either Safeway or Cost less food company I only get fruits and veg at cost less, the rest I can get cheaper at Safeway on sale.
Get a CVS card and a Safeway card, they help a lot. CVS gives you extra bucks back on what you buy.

I do CVS but never thought to buy food items there - do all toiletries/medicines/vitamins

Never heard of Winco though, need to check that one out! Especially as I always buy free range eggs and as we get through so many it can often cost us $7-8/week!

Our CVS sells Crystal milk, thats why we buy it. Hormone free it's usually about $3 a gal where at the normal grocery store it's closer to $4 or over for a gal, store brand is cheaper buy we've had trouble with mucus in it and I can't bring myself to buy it again. It was gross.
So Crystal or Lucerne for us.

Kungfutea Thu 14-Mar-13 01:03:33

Mucus in milk??? Ewwwwwwww

Kungfutea Thu 14-Mar-13 01:10:01

We also have Aldi not too far away. It's hit and miss as to what they'll have and not as good as Aldi in Europe but still pretty cheap

Want2bSupermum Thu 14-Mar-13 04:16:07

The problem with costco is that you have to buy so darn much of the food. We buy our meat there as DH is picky. Obv we have a lot of pork products and the only pork we buy is loin that DH cuts into chops. This really cuts down on the price as we get 25-30 chops out of a loin (cut them thin) for $20-25. All of our meat is frozen and kept in the chest freezer in the basement.

I limit the selection of fruit in the bowl. Right now we have apples ($1.09/lb) and bananas ($0.46/lb) from costco. I picked up an orange and 2 pears from the supermarket. I only buy grapes when 99c/lb and melon when on offer. Sweet potato is $0.69/lb and I buy the bigger ones so I lose less when I peel it. I buy a lot of my veg frozen from TJ. It is a lot cheaper than buying fresh.

I spend $50/wk on food for DH, myself and DD. If you write a list and only buy what is on the list you surprise yourself at how much you save.

Meh no winco in LA sad

mamasr Sun 17-Mar-13 22:43:23

Things have moved a bit quicker than I first thought and it looks like instead of LA we're very likely to be moving to NY.. DP is yet to have a interview but from exchange of emails its just a sort of formality. Are there any of you in NY?
We have to sort out our own visas as the job is something DP is applying for rather than an office transfer etc. It's a 9 month contract starting this time next year and I know I wont be able to get a visa to work but hoping DS & I can get one on the back of his!? Has anyone any experience in sorting out their own visas?

Double check they won't sort the visas out and what else they're offering for the relocation.

My DH applied to a totally new company too and we have other friends who have too (different companies) every company paid and organized at the least visas, flights, shipping of stuff, accommodation for at least a month and car hire...also get them to confirm at least subsidy of healthcare

Good luck! Exciting times

Kungfutea Mon 18-Mar-13 00:20:32

I'm not an expert but your best bet is probably to get married, at least on paper. Otherwise, which visa were you thinking of applying for? If you're married, your dps employer should cover the costs and a lot of the hassle as you'll be your dps dependents.

Be very careful regarding working conditions and health insurance. Annual leave here is pretty paltry in comparison with uk. Health insurance coverage can vary greatly. Look very carefully at co-pays, deductibles and coverage limits (not sure if that's still legal). Also check if you and ds will be covered if you're not married!

Good luck! We're in NYC and love it.

Kungfutea Mon 18-Mar-13 00:21:50

Ah, sorry, saw that you have to sort out your own visas. Is it an H1b? I dont think you can work then.

Just browsing through, and saw chat about sausages. Trader Joes have 'Irish Bangers' in for St Patricks day, which are pretty much a standard British sausage. I've filled our (spacious) freezer with them.

NatashaBee Wed 20-Mar-13 01:29:03

Mamasr, you can't sort your own visas. The employer has to file the paperwork and pay for it. If its for a new company that your partner hasn't worked for before, he would go on an H1b visa. Assuming you're married, you would be on an H4 visa and wouldn't be allowed to work (unless you find an employer to sponsor you for your own H1 visa).

wentshopping Wed 20-Mar-13 02:25:04

goodbye - hello! I'm also in Houston. (Almost 11 years now). Hairdryers - try Ulta or Target.
Househunting - I am currently selling my house, and renting another while my new house is being built. House sale - my house officially listed for sale on Feb 21, sold that day, goes to closing next week. For the rental, I viewed it and did the paperwork the next day - get the keys next month. So, I think the process is a bit quicker than the UK. This is also the peak time for people moving because they seem to finish the school year (end of May), then move in time to be where they want to be (school catchment area) for the next school year (so, before August).
Sorry if this info is a bit out of date for you - I haven't lurked on here for a couple of weeks as was busy with house!!
Hope you are settling in well - feel free to pm me if you need anything.

goodbyeyellowbrickroad Wed 20-Mar-13 17:49:54

Thanks wentshopping! We found a home to lease yesterday so our application is being processed today. Think we'll be very happy there. It's in the Montrose area and would love to meet up with any other Houstonians in that neighbourhood - PM me.

I'm trying to get my head round the difference in bra sizes here as I need a couple of new nursing bras and a sports one. Does anyone know of a good online conversion table? The ones I've found so far all give conflicting info. Thanks!

I'd just go to a shop that does measurements and get yourself measured. Thought did this and turns out I'm exactly the same size UK and US?!

wentshopping Wed 20-Mar-13 21:25:31

I have been measured in Nordstrom in the Galleria mall; ok, but choice of bras is the pretty pricey ones. I have bought online from M&S, and its free shipping to the US just now. (I guess that doesn't help if you are about to move though - takes just over 1 week to get here).

I know this will sound a bit chav and naff, but I got measured and now buy all my bras at Victoria's Secret...feel like they're the equivalent of La Senza (cheap and they fit me perfectly!)

SquinkieBunnies Wed 20-Mar-13 23:19:44

I made a bras and undies order with M&S last week and it was fast, very fast. It shipped on Friday (they sent me an email) and it arrived on Monday, I was shocked, that's faster than the US based make up order I made same day that is supposed to arrive tomorrow.
I'm going to make a second order this week blush More bras (mine are getting holey) and undies for Dd and socks, they work out cheaper from M&S with free shipping, are more cottony and super soft compared to the usual rubbish in WalMart and Target. I was having a hard time finding her socks that aren't the ones so low they slide down into her shoes, she hates those, short ankle pretty colours and cottony seem rare this year in the US.

Wentshopping congrats of the fast house sale, that was really fast. Our house is supposed to go up for sale any time now, I'm waiting on a call from the carpet man, he ordered new carpets and has to install them and I'm getting antsy, Dh has done all the painting, weeding, other boring clean up jobs needed. If ours sells right away I'll probably faint! Nice here how once you accept the offer they close in 30 days, no waiting months like in UK.
Our last house took 5 months to sell bad choice in realtor, she did nothing till the contract was about to be up then suddenly up pops a buyer.
This time it'll be a month to month rolling contract, so I can get rid if they don't answer calls or go away on holiday for a month. No sitting back waiting for someone else to sell and just collect the commission this time.

NatashaBee Wed 20-Mar-13 23:39:41

Free shipping from m and s? Wow! I can order myself some new bras!

goodbyeyellowbrickroad Thu 21-Mar-13 01:43:15

Thanks for the tips. Happy to splash the cash but fear that Nordstrom won't accomodate my rather ample bosom - currently at 36K. Think I'll check out Bravissimo's international orders - I know where I am with them.

I will be looking at M&S in a mo though as DS needs some clothes especially some warmer things as we're heading back to the UK in a couple of weeks for a wedding. The little mite has dared to have a growth spurt so everything I bought before our move doesn't really fit anymore! Plus I can always use more M&S knickers.

Squinkie hope you have better luck with the house sale this time.

wentshopping Thu 21-Mar-13 04:39:50

Good luck with your sale squinkie - mine was one of those word of mouth things - youngest dd told her friends we were moving, friend's mum called and came to view before it went on the market... luckily she liked it. I still have a realtor involved though, because we bought it 8 years ago directly from the owner and I worried so much that the conveyancing had not been done properly.
Now I just have to watch and wait as my new house gets built. I've picked out all the cabinets, countertops, bathroom tile etc - that was fun!
Think I'll have a peek on M&S now... I agree the socks work out very good value - youngest dd has to have knee high socks, and I can't find good cotton ones here, so more "school socks" for her.

Want2bSupermum Fri 22-Mar-13 15:31:34

Hi everyone! Great to hear about M&S. I got some pj's for DD that are plain white so can be bleached and passed down to DS. Target/Walmart/kMart etc are all poor when it comes to clothing IMO.

For nursing bras Nordstrom here in NJ ordered Anita bras for me in huge sizes. I ordered 5 different sizes and returned what didn't fit to the store. They then ordered another 2 or 3 in that size. I was a 32I, or something crazy like that, and they didn't have any of that size. Their HQ ordered the sizes I wanted to try directly from the manufacturer. Nordstrom did expidited shipping for me to cut the wait from 2 weeks+ to less than a week. I liked the anita bras because they were underwired and had huge shoulder straps that didn't cut into me. Just a shame that my milk didn't come in with DD and with DS I gave up due to returning to work so quickly.

SquinkieBunnies Fri 22-Mar-13 16:46:42

I hope you looked at the sale while on the M&S site, I had put a lot of things in my basket and left it till Dd went to bed, when I went to check out the kickers had been reduced to 50p and twin pack cottony bras (that run small so I size up) had been reduced to £3 so I spent another £20 and have 4 bras and 6 pairs of knickers winging their way here, it was the low rise shorts kind.

NatashaBee Fri 22-Mar-13 17:43:59

Thanks SquinkieBunnies... off to check out the site again now!

DH and I are thinking of buying a foreclosure near where my in-laws live. Anyone have any experience of foreclosures? Structurally the house seems to be sound, but there's no electric so can't test the AC or heating, we will factor that into the offer. We will obviously get it appraised properly, and since it will only be a second home we don't really need to complete by any specific time... just wondered if anyone had done it.

NatashaBee Fri 22-Mar-13 17:52:19

Also, for anyone ordering from M&S - there are lots of coupons on the retailmenot site. I used LINGERIE for 5 pounds off of 30 when i just ordered, which worked. Thanks again SquinkieBunnies! Bras here just aren't the same as UK ones. Now if only Primark would ship to the US...

SquinkieBunnies Fri 22-Mar-13 18:14:24

So Primark has good bras?
I know I told my sister to check out the M&S sale she said no, she buys Primark. I've never been in one as there isn't one anywhere near my mother when we visit, Sis lived in Manchester before moving overseas, there is so much shopping choice threre it makes me queasy.

NatashaBee Fri 22-Mar-13 18:56:38

I really like Primark bras - for 4 pounds each you just can't beat them, they seem to be the only ones to fit me well. In general for their prices, the quality is pretty good and the stuff is hard wearing - fitted t-shirts and vest tops are great too. It is a bit of a muddle in there though as they tend to be pretty busy, so people dump stuff on shelves if they get tired of queuing.

anyone booked internal flights?have a friend flying to us from NYC and she's wondering whether to book now or wait a bit (do the fares go up the closer it gets a la european short haul easyjet etc?)

No, tend to get better prices 21 days out and mid week and with changes.

I've found this software finds me good prices with a little juggling, but you can't book with it, you have to ring the airline with the codes it spits out
matrix.itasoftware.com

SquinkieBunnies Mon 25-Mar-13 22:49:48

I found Jet blue have good prices, you can only book direct with them, and they still give you one checked bag for free.

Thanks both!

FringeEvent Thu 28-Mar-13 23:04:49

We've just received an email from the immigration lawyers to say that they've now got everything they need from us, and they'll be filing the visa application with USCIS tomorrow to ensure it reaches them for 1 April. So in approx 3 weeks from now we should know for sure whether we're moving to CA this year!! shock

Yay Fringe that's very exciting! Sorry, totally owe you an email!

Want2bSupermum Sat 30-Mar-13 01:30:09

That is very exciting Fringe!

natasha Have no direct experience but would love to hear from others who have.

MercedesKing Sat 30-Mar-13 03:46:17

Guess some of us are seeking for the place that familiar as well as fresh or a little different from our hometown. Anyway, hope all thing go well after you make the determination. smile

MrsFrumble Tue 02-Apr-13 20:10:37

Can I join in? We (me, DH, 2.5 year old DS and 5 month old DD) have just moved from London to Oklahoma City for DH's work. We arrived last week and have been slowly adjusting; overcoming jet-lag, mentally converting the price of everything into GBP and getting lost in Walmart.

It's been pouring with rain all day in OKC, so I'm feeling quite at home right now. We've managed to get our hands on Twinings tea bags and tune into Radio 4 online which also helps.

Welcome MrsFrumble.
If you search WalMart food section you can also get Tetley British blend teabags.
Hope you are settling in OK, How long are you here for?

FringeEvent Wed 03-Apr-13 23:43:40

I've just had the realisation that if we're coming over to CA in Sept, we're going to miss sloe-picking season sad

FlipFantasia Wed 24-Apr-13 02:39:56

Hello ladies!

I've not been on MN in forever and just posted a novel on a thread about moving to NJ grin. My pent up MNing is coming out grin

Hope that life is good for all and that spring is springing wherever you are.

Life is good with us. Can't quite believe it's nearly May! DD is now one (actually 13 months in a couple of days!) and DS is now 3. We're looking to buy a home, so really putting down roots. In fact, hopefully by tomorrow afternoon we'll be putting an offer in on a place! Scary and exciting after renting for so long!

Natasha we don't have direct experience of a foreclosure but the first house we tried to buy ended up being a short sale and we pulled out (this happened last week). We don't have time to waste waiting for approvals so are looking for another house now. I found the uncertainty stressful (the whole process was v slow - hard for us to know what's normal house buying stress and what was because the sellers were in such financial distress). But if time is not a factor then go for it - it may take a year, it may take 6 months - but you can just go with the flow. But do factor in the work needed - get a thorough inspection and good estimates from contractors as the state of disrepair can be pretty bad and costly even if the structure is sound. You don't want to overpay for a money pit when you could buy a nicely maintained house for less than the cost of repairs! You may well have gone ahead with it all so disregard as necessary!

Want2be hope you're enjoying DS! We went to an open house for a cute Victorian on your street in Feb - down at the park end, a lovely narrow house with a porch and a big side lot - but it sold within 72 hours of being relisted (it sat for months last yer). The market is super hot in certain price brackets and all the realtors are moaning about a lack of inventory!

Big waves to everyone else. I'm going to start a NJ meet up thread - it would be lovely to have a summer meet up! Though it's hard to plan the summer before knowing what will happen with our house purchase as we're technically homeless from 1 July! So I may start the thread once I know where we'll be living in the summer!

NatashaBee Wed 24-Apr-13 02:45:35

Thanks Flip! Good luck with your house purchase. We got a bit sucked in looking at repos/ short sales/ foreclosures, but are starting to realise that those need expenditure as a lump sum rather than a slightly higher mortgage payment which is probably more manageable.

FlipFantasia Wed 24-Apr-13 03:42:16

Natasha I agree - we looked at some in Dec/Jan and decided that with interest rates so low it was worth buying a more expensive place that was in better shape...still ended up trying to buy a place that needed work but in an amazing location, hoping we could close in the summer and get the (mostly cosmetic) work done (FIL is a contractor in southern jersey so we had some good leads on floor guys, painting etc). But it turned out to be a short sale so we just backed out rather than face the time & uncertainty of it all. We're looking for things with a higher purchase price but needing no work, as a rate of 3.5% fixed for 30 years makes a bigger mortgage manageable (decided on 30 year rather than 15 year as no penalties to overpay).

Want2bSupermum Thu 25-Apr-13 18:51:34

Oh Good luck flip! I hope you get it. I know the house you are talking about. I was surprised it didn't sell quicker in the fall but I think the uncertainty with the neighbouring house which was being gutted was the cause of the delay.

I went back to work on Monday and it is wierd to be working so soon after giving birth. I still have 6 weeks of leave that I can take between now and next Feb. Just not sure when to take those weeks!

rootypig Wed 07-Aug-13 00:52:03

Hello! Thread revival? The time for our move to LA is getting close - flights (one way eeeeek!) booked for 16 September, we have a west side apartment (UCLA grad housing), looking at cars... All terrifyingly real.

I am sad seeing all the autumn coats and boots in British mags! Yes I am mad.

So the big question - what do I stock up on before I leave the UK? Have already put about 6 boxes of tea in with the shipping grin

NatashaBee Wed 07-Aug-13 01:09:59

Oooh, thread's back! Good luck for your move rootypig.

markymark Sun 18-Aug-13 05:12:57

Hi everyone - I joined a while back and went a bit quiet during the move. We've arrived in San Francisco now - or the East Bay at least. Got a lease signed yesterday and the container is due to arrive next weekend so can move out of the dingy temporary flat - yippee!

Hoping to get DD into kindergarten next week and can see back to school signs everywhere. I'm assuming they'll give me a list of the stuff she'll need but any tips on whether I need to get her new clothes? Does she need to be smart or will leggings and a T-shirt be ok? We're used to school uniform and are completely clueless :-)

Most kids seem to get a nice new outfit for the first day of school. I don't usually bother, they wreck their clothes at school. Play clothes seem more common while they are little.

HoneyStepMummy Wed 21-Aug-13 16:43:12

Markymark back to school shopping is a big thing over here. For first day of school kids don't need to wear something smart but wearing a nice, new outfit is a nice way to start off the school yearsmile Walmart and Crazy Eight have very cute and very affordable kids clothes so you don't have to go crazy and spend tons of money.
You can check on the schools website to see if they have posted what supplies each kid will need. Right now all the stores have back to school specials and you can get school supplies for pennies!

Hi everyone! We moved from singapore to houston Texas at the end of July. We are now in our house, exploring and trying to stop the kids killing each other before school starts in a couple of weeks. Life here is pretty easy, the weather is good and once the kids are at school I'll be on the hunt for an after school nanny and a job (I'm on an L2 visa).

Looking forward to meeting people through the kids school ... Our neighbors are nice but beyond "hello" they keep themselves to themselves. We are used to condo living where everyone knows everyone else and all the kids play together..... Anyone else in houston?

Want2bSupermum Tue 27-Aug-13 18:46:16

Hi Butterflies - Very common in the US for people to keep to themselves. They will be very friendly but never invite you into their home.

I would suggest you look into the YMCA. You can sign your kids up for all sorts of activities here and they will make friends quickly. Registration here in NJ has already started and places fill up fast.

Well done on having a working visa. I stronly suggest you start looking for a nanny now. I found college students to be a good bet for after school. Are you looking for a job in a particular industry?

Speaking of childcare.... we ended up pulling our children out of daycare after DD was bitten for the 5th time. It was clear there was a lack of supervision and her behaviour in general was going south fast. Our neighbour was laid off 5 years ago from the school district and worked in Target. She hated working there and jumped at the chance to work for us. She has three fabulous children aged 24, 22 and 18 who are a credit to her and her DH. She is amazing with the babies. I am working with her to help her set up a daycare from home. She lives on the same street as me so I don't care if the kids are at our house or hers!

In other news I found out I was one credit short of the requirement for the CPA license in NJ. I took a boring tax course over the summer and passed with a C grade. I opened the text book twice over the nine weeks of the course. I am sure there will be another hoop for me to jump through before I get my CPA license.....

wentshopping Wed 28-Aug-13 06:31:31

Hi Butterflies! I am in Houston - dc went back to school this week so I am just recovering from the 11 weeks off school.
Feel free to pm me if you want.
Well done Supermum. Perhaps you can do all our taxes (Just kidding).

Hi supermum and wentshopping. Thanks for your tips supermum, I realise that living here is pretty different to what we're used to. We have joined the local recreation centre and classes start first week in September so will sign the kids up for some activities. School doesn't start til Sept 9 though so we've been off since June 26 and it's a loooong summer....

I got my letter from the social security yesterday though and should have my number in 2 weeks and my employment authorization is in progress. I've been given the number of a good nannying agency and looked at sittercity.com but I don't know about the summer with the kids having so long off school. My dds are aged 4 and 8 and a summer with a babysitter doesnt seem appealing - plus there's not much standard holiday allowance in the US - couple of weeks? We normally head back to the UK for a month over the summer to spend time with family. I am looking at management work in higher education (which I did in the UK and loved) but am also a qualified swimming instructor specializing in teaching pre-schoolers.... Might be easier to set up on my own doing this again.... Or even re-train for something else...

DDs and DH want a dog too, which is completely incompatible with me working full time (DH travels a lot for work).... Ah well, we've only been here a month, guess it will all sort out.

Congratulations supermum on passing your exam, seems to be lots of demand for that type of work.

Wentshopping will pm you - still 10 days of school holiday left for me....

LadyoftheLakes Wed 28-Aug-13 15:15:26

Hi Everyone. We moved to Michigan in June and have spent the summer settling into our house and exploring. Our neighbours are friendly, lots of children on our street although mainly boys much to my DDs disappointment. It is very strange not being able to meet up with friends.
Looking forward to school starting although we are all nervous.
I found out when I applied for my social security number that I am now allowed to work...not sure whether that is good or bad news so will see how the next 6 months goes.
Anyone in Michigan?

Want2bSupermum Wed 28-Aug-13 18:05:38

butterflies Sittercity is full of college students which I think might be a better bet for older children that you have in activities. You should also check out if the school has an afterschool program.

You should def consider community colleges as well as traditional colleges. I have been impressed with the courses offered at the community college and the experience in general. I would imagine the hours are much more family friendly. Agree with you on getting a dog. I love our dog but it is really tough to work FT with two kids aged 2 and 6 months and make sure the dog gets his cuddles. DD was given her first chore yesterday - feeding the dog!

Vacation in the US is normally 2 weeks but you will be shocked to learn it is very neigotiable. I am supposed to have 15 days - 3 wks but due to DH travelling so much they gave me an additional 3 wks each year as sabbatical. Our sabbaticals are paid out at 20% of regular wages. It isn't perfect but it was a great compromise.

wentshopping You don't want me to do your taxes! I am in restructuring and am an auditor during quiet times. I was so scared of having to do this tax course but I just sucked it up and got on with it. I had no time to study but luckily I had covered the content while preparing for my CPA exams.

NatashaBee Wed 28-Aug-13 18:24:18

LadyoftheLakes I'm in Michigan smile Farmington Hills, just outside of Detroit. Whereabouts are you?

PeppermintBark Wed 28-Aug-13 21:50:31

I'm in Michigan, too! Bloomfield Hills, so fairly close to you, NatashaBee. Must confess I don't post much on Mumsnet unless I can add anything to a discussion.

LadyoftheLakes I was going to post on your other thread, but will do so here. Michigan is pretty big, I can give you ideas about places to visit, but if you live up North, they will be quite a distance.

If you should be reasonably close, the Henry Ford museum and Greenfield village, in Dearborn, and the Zoo in Royal Oak are well worth a visit.

NatashaBee Wed 28-Aug-13 23:54:28

Oooh, that's exciting PeppermintBark - we were just in West Bloomfield today at Plum market, stocking up on European beers and Toblerone bars smile

We went to Port Clinton Safari park in Ohio the other day - we weren't expecting much as the tripadvisor reviews were fairly mixed and a year pass was only $50, but it was absolutely brilliant - it's a drive through safari and you can buy carrots to feed the animals out the car window. It's near Kalahari waterpark which was nice, but very expensive and DSD and DS both preferred feeding the animals!

LadyoftheLakes Thu 29-Aug-13 00:33:30

Natasha Bee and PeppermintBark. I'm in Bloomfield too! Have you been here long?

PeppermintBark Thu 29-Aug-13 00:53:29

I have been here for 5 1/2 years and will be here for at least another three until my youngest finishes high school. (I'm not totally ancient, done with reproducing by the time I was 30 .)

NatashaBee my DDs bought tons of chocolate while we were in England for the summer. I bought two huge bottles of HP sauce, three packets of decaf Kenco instant coffee and four packets of Tuna Pasta Bake mix.

Perhaps we can all get together sometime? A Michigan meet up!

NatashaBee Thu 29-Aug-13 00:55:55

That would be awesome! I always lurked on this thread thinking I was the only MI Mumsnetter...

NatashaBee Thu 29-Aug-13 00:58:00

We've been here 3 years now, DH and I were transferred over by the company we work for. DH's parents have lived in the US for the last 30 years or so, and DSD's mother is American, so it was fairly familiar to them. But my first Michigan winter was a bit of a shock!

PeppermintBark Thu 29-Aug-13 01:10:46

brew and cake sometime would be excellent.

Just off to Planet Rock in Pontiac - another good place to visit - to pick up DD2 who practically lives there.

LadyoftheLakes Thu 29-Aug-13 03:49:11

A meet up would be great. I shall message you both my details and hopefully get coffee sorted.

Want2bSupermum Tue 03-Sep-13 03:15:05

Happy Labor Day everyone. We did a joint birthday and christening party on Saturday. We had 20 kids aged 2mths to 6yrs old running over our house like ants!

kickassangel Tue 03-Sep-13 04:20:00

Wait, there are other MI people? I thought it was just me and Natasha Bee. I live just the other side of Ann Arbor, about 40 mins from Bloomington. I never realized there are so many of us.

I have never met a mner in rl before. How do you know each other at a meet up? Do you all wear a red carnation, or the mn scarf?

kickassangel Tue 03-Sep-13 04:21:57

Sorry, Bloomfield. Bloomington is in Indiana, and dh keeps working there. So easy to get them confused.

I have to go to bed soon, first day of school tomorrow.

PeppermintBark Tue 03-Sep-13 17:37:18

I did wonder how we would identify ourselves.......I have plenty of scarves, but none like that which appears on the top of the site. Perhaps we could meet at a coffee shop somewhere, with a copy of a predetermined book by which we could recognised. And also wear a scarf.....grin

Kids back to school today here, I don't know whether I miss them or am relieved to have some peace and quiet. long days without them at the moment as they have sports practice until 5.30/6.00 every night (high schoolers).

kickassangel Tue 03-Sep-13 22:12:38

How far is Bloomfield from 12 Oaks?

PeppermintBark Wed 04-Sep-13 02:08:44

It's about 1/2 an hour - went there on Saturday to add another Cheesecake factory location to our list of visits. 'twas yummy, although we were there when it opened and it took us 45 mins to get seated. Shockingly slow, although the food came out quite quickly after it was ordered.

kickassangel Wed 04-Sep-13 02:55:32

Cheesecake Factory, mmmmm.

But don't look at the number of calories in a meal - portions are huge, and I think they invented a way to make the air fattening. Still, a LOT close than Chicago, which used to be our nearest one.

CoolStoryBro Fri 06-Sep-13 00:28:14

I'm not a fan of Cheesecake Factory. I must have been to some dodgy ones as I've never had a good meal there.

Anyway, on a totally other subject, have any of you taken the Real Estate licensing exams? Just wondering how you found them?

NatashaBee Fri 06-Sep-13 00:43:50

I don't like Cheesecake Factory cheesecake much either - too sickly. People rave about the burgers though so I might have to give those a try.

I see deals for real estate licensing classes on Groupon from time to time, been pondering taking it myself.

Want2bSupermum Fri 06-Sep-13 00:56:55

Cheesecake is my go-to with the DC's when I am on my own as they are great at helping me with the kids. In April I was there (DS was 6wks and DD was 21mths) when I got really sick and couldn't stop throwing up. The waitress looked after the kids while I was in the bathroom and she knew a customer was a doctor so asked her to find me in the bathroom. They have an awesome menu - skinnilicious and the kiddie menu is what I order from. Everything on their skinnilicous menu is 500 calories or less.

Natasha Don't try their burger there unless you like them greasy.

PeppermintBark Fri 06-Sep-13 01:02:52

I have a friend who got a real estate license (not in MI) for the express purpose of selling her house as she didn't want to pay the realtor's fees. I don't think it was difficult, from what she said.

Btw, has anybody seen the Newcastle Brown adverts? I'm just watching Jon Stewart and one's popped up. I can't believe they can get away with having 'no bollocks' flashing up on the screen. Do Americans not know what bollocks are?

CoolStoryBro Fri 06-Sep-13 01:34:02

Peppermint, that's genius of your friend! Would save a fortune!!

kickassangel Fri 06-Sep-13 05:04:52

Most have heard the word but it doesn't have the same emotional impact. The same for wanker. We moved here just after Bono and Chris Martin had a slanging match and one called the other a wanker. Dd was 5 and the local music station kept saying the word. I was thinking nooooooo my precious little 5 year old can't start saying wanker.

But then her first word after mummy and daddy was bollocks.

I think you can sit the real estate exam just from studying books or online, although classes might be easier. You still have to pay the fee to the other agent for your buyer if you sell, so you would save around 5% not the full amount.

rootypig Thu 12-Sep-13 18:05:40

Hello busy America thread! smile

We leave for LA on Monday - assuming California hasn't entirely gone up in smoke by then. The heatwave sounds ridiculous hmm

Does anyone feed (or has anyone fed) their baby formula out there? any recommendations? DD is 10.5mo and still drinks a lot of milk. We use Hipp here but not available there. Considering smuggling an 8 week supply in

NatashaBee Thu 12-Sep-13 18:52:55

See if you can find someone with a Costco, BJs or Sam's club membership to buy your formula for you - it's a lot cheaper there! Not sure if it would be worth spending $50 on your own membership since your DD is nearly one now but they do have some good bargains. My son used to do best on the Sams Club own brand milk, you can buy Hipp on Amazon.com although it looks very expensive. I also buy my diapers from amazon.com, with their 'subscribe and save' option it's pretty good value.

rootypig Thu 12-Sep-13 18:57:50

Thanks Natasha. DH has a Costco card on MIL's account, I'm pretty sure. I love Costco grin

Any thoughts on brand? they all look dreadful

NatashaBee Thu 12-Sep-13 19:26:47

I initially used Enfamil until I realized DS had less wind with the Sams club own brand, mainly because that was what they gave us at the hospital, it seems to be the most commonly used one. Pediatricians and hospitals do get paid here for giving out samples I think, so I wouldn't pay a lot of attention to what they tell you.

rootypig Fri 13-Sep-13 18:36:44

Ok, thanks Natasha stuffs suitcase with Hipp

Dd used the Costco brand formula, worked just fine for her and it was nice and easy to mix, I found some of them got really clumpy in the bottle and took a lot of shaking.

rootypig Sun 15-Sep-13 00:03:47

Thanks Squinkies, will give Sam's club and Costco own a go. Am not averse to own brand - spose all the packaging and bumf is so alien. Am packing some Hipp to get DD though the first weeks, it's so hot there at the mo and she won't drink water, I need to know she'll take her milk confused

NatashaBee Sun 15-Sep-13 00:57:43

That's probably the best idea, rootypig. We found a hidden gem today - Ackroyds Scottish Bakery in MI. They have pasties and shortbread and scones and sausage rolls! I have been munching on them all day and various English bits and pieces like Cadburys chocolate and Heinz baked beans and Ribena.

OMG Natasha you have struck gold.

Want2bSupermum Tue 17-Sep-13 04:44:42

For formula, we found similiac sensitive worked really well for DD. DS throws everything up so we save our money and give him costco own. It is half the price. We tried the other stuff but it's all the same.

Diapers - BJ's has pampers. Costco has the best wipes and their own brand diapers are huggies.

Want2bSupermum Tue 17-Sep-13 04:48:07

Rooty Instead of sudocream you use triple paste here. The stuff is like a miracle! For everyday I used aquaphor. It is much better than A&D or vaseline. You can get it at a good price at Target.

For all that type of stuff wait for it to go offer at a drugstore but don't but check online to see what the price is. I got 4 tubs of aquaphor online when walgreens was having their buy 1 get 1 half off. The price in the store was $16 a tub while online it was $13.99.

rootypig Wed 18-Sep-13 03:56:38

Thanks want2b! That's all really helpful. I smuggled in 6 weeks' worth of Hipp so I don't have to get in a mad panic getting hold of anything. We have to get a car.... Setting up in LA is a bit more difficult than London, where everything is so easy to get to. [homesick]

markymark Wed 18-Sep-13 04:06:25

I'm homesick too! 6 weeks in to life in the Bay Area - it's beautiful but I just want to walk somewhere. Everyone is being really friendly but sometimes it's the little things isn't it? The day I found Heinz baked beans in the supermarket I could have cried :-)

rootypig Wed 18-Sep-13 06:50:14

I walked across LA today. Miiiiiiiistake.

Sigh.

Want2bSupermum Wed 18-Sep-13 13:55:44

rooty You need a car. Even if you do a 2 year lease on a cheap thing get one. Your life will be transformed.

rootypig Wed 18-Sep-13 14:12:31

Yup tis on the list, to buy one. DH needs to get paid first confused

And I need to get my driver's license! blush

rootypig Wed 18-Sep-13 14:17:00

Has anyone got their California driving license without a social security number?

Want2bSupermum Wed 18-Sep-13 18:14:42

You need a social security card:

http://www.dmv.ca.gov/dl/dl_info.htm#international

It does say on here that you can drive on your British license until you are resident in the US - then you have 10 days to get your CA one. If you don't have a social security card then I don't see how you are a resident.

If you do not have your social security card I would first call them (expect nothing!) and then visit them as if your visa has been processed your social security number should have been assigned.

PeppermintBark Thu 19-Sep-13 01:42:51

The first time we moved over, the state we were in at the time refused to issue a social security number to me because of my personal visa status. In order to get my license, I had to provide the DMV with a 'letter of denial' of SSN issued by the social security dept., in lieu of the SSN.

rootypig Thu 19-Sep-13 06:45:12

Thanks Peppermint, it's really helpful to know what it's called. The difficulty with US bureaucracy is it's so opaque! there are so few explanations of all of these things available. I have emailed the social security office.

Want2b sadly visa not processed, am here on a temporary one. thanks for nothing DH

wentshopping Fri 20-Sep-13 03:31:36

I know I am in a different state, but I had to go to the social security office and get a tax id instead of an SSN, when I was initially here, and on a visa. The DMV took the tax id instead of the SSN.
Forgot to tell DMV when I subsequently got SSN, which led to a snotty letter about not being able to identify me when I tried to change my address...

Want2bSupermum Fri 20-Sep-13 20:00:55

Since you are on a temp visa I would think you can def drive on your British one. Your DH should be able to get a CA DL with his SSC and buy a car for you.

BTW - I would be livid if my DH expected me to move to another country and all I had was a temporary visa. I take it you are going to be a non-working spouse? I would chase the immigration people and find out when your visa will be issued. You need a proper visa within a reasonable timeframe (I would say a month at most). If it is the government taking their sweet time get hold of your senator and ask for their assistance.

Our senator was great when I contacted them for DH. He couldn't drive for 6 months as his status was in limbo due to his data being lost after huricane katrina. A week after I got hold of the senator to ask for his help DH had his visa renewal processed.

NatashaBee Fri 20-Sep-13 20:20:40

What visa are you on rootypig? If you can't get an SSN, can you get a TIN (tax ID card?).

rootypig Fri 20-Sep-13 21:30:17

I don't have a British driving license blush. Am 30 and have moved round the world a lot, but always lived in big cities, so having a car never really came up.

And yes, I am livid. We did consular filing in London (for green card, DH is American) but stupid fucking DH didn't do it when he said he would / should have done, so we had to leave before I could get through all the steps. But, we were far enough through both time and cost wise to make starting again here with adjustment of status a bit silly. we basically would have paid for the damn visa twice. So I'm flying back in November, partly for family stuff, and hoping to complete the process then well dodgy. Ostensibly the two months DD and I are here are to visit, so establishing California residency for the DMV really really dodgy bit dicey. So really not US fault at all.

I am just desp to drive, and want to have this sorted so I can look for jobs as soon as I get back here. Plus it's something useful I can do instead of just sitting at home going out of my mind. I didn't anticipate this bloody SSN business.

I am going to go to the SS office and explain, will get letter of denial I think. Fingers crossed. Thanks want2b and Natasha for your help.

rootypig Fri 20-Sep-13 21:30:50

Hope US immigration not reading this grin

Want2bSupermum Tue 24-Sep-13 18:10:02

rooty Does your DH have a car to get himself around? If so, I would drive him to and from work and use the car during the day at least twice a week. If he doens't have a car I would rent one for at least one day a week.

rootypig Tue 24-Sep-13 18:51:44

want2b DH is getting around by bike. I couldn't drive a car, even if we had one. I need to get down to the social security office and sort out my letter of denial, then get on with getting my license. Bloody difficult in the thousand degree heat with a screaming baby in tow though sad

NatashaBee Tue 24-Sep-13 19:48:36

If it's any help, rooty, the driving tests here are far easier than the UK. I made a few mistakes in mine which would have been considered a major fault in the UK and I would have failed for them (exceeding speed limit, screwed up my manouvers), all I got was a couple of minor marks. So once you get your SSN/ ID sorted it should be fairly easy to get on the road. You can always start studying for the written test in the meantime, if CA has one.

rootypig Tue 24-Sep-13 21:05:27

Yay the is encouraging Natasha, thanks. My goal is to have it sorted before I fly home in early November.

Want2bSupermum Wed 25-Sep-13 15:16:18

Yes I would def be taking lessons. The kids can go in the back seat. Mine normally sleep after 5 mins of driving.

Californialiving Wed 25-Sep-13 23:06:03

Markymark where in the bay area are you?

rootypig Thu 26-Sep-13 02:07:56

I have my letter of denial! I have my appointment to get my permit! (next Thursday). I am studying for the written test! all is encouraging. I WILL have a CA licence by November, I will!

Want2bSupermum Thu 26-Sep-13 20:49:30

That is great news rooty. I would def take lessons though. The roads here are not easy to navigate. The test isn't hard but driving around here at least can be nasty.

rootypig Thu 26-Sep-13 22:22:27

I know, I was pushing DD along the road the other day, 8 lanes of snarling traffic, and couldn't imagine being in it. Lessons are a good idea. I did drive for a year or two when I was seventeen, and intermittently until three years ago when my provisional licence expired! failed a UK test at 18 and then went on my gap yah, never prioritised retaking it - mistake! but at least am not utter novice. Am also going to ride my bike as much as I can, sounds daft but does get you used to being on the right, instead of the left.

rootypig Mon 30-Sep-13 05:29:30

<KLAXON>

M&S free delivery to US and Canada now

Roselau Mon 30-Sep-13 09:34:01

Hi all!
just discovered this section and thread. I am moving in a week from tomorrow to Los Angeles from London (I'm originally Belgian but grew up in Canada). ugh that sounds complicated doesn't it?

Anyone in California?

I'm stressing out slightly as my DP is there already (started a new job), I'm 28 weeks pregnant, and I have to wrap up everything at work and at home. My mom is coming this morning for the whole week to 'help' but I'm really worried that she may just be something else I need to think about.

Anyways just wanted to say hi!

PeppermintBark Mon 30-Sep-13 18:38:25

I'm in Michigan, not California, but wanted to say hi.

Congrats on your pregnancy!

Everyone's mum is different, but how about giving her a specific list of tasks you'd like her to do? That would have worked well with my mum, she would have felt she was being useful. As it was, we had packers, so they just required tea and biscuits smile

I was in Canada at the weekend, about an hour outside Toronto. Our DDs school mountain biking team take part in an 8 hour relay race every year. DDs look out for the 'eh' and oldest came back from one lap telling us how a guy has told her 'I'm just going to pass you, eh'. Another guy told her he loved her fluorescent yellow socks. We like Canadians!

rootypig Mon 30-Sep-13 22:23:44

Hi Roselau! I just moved to LA two weeks ago, from London. We have an 11 month old daughter, and are on the west side, in UCLA family housing. If you have any questions feel free to PM me and I'll do my best to help. My DH is a southern California native, so anything I don't know, he probably will. There are a couple of other people in LA / SoCal too.

Where in LA will you be living? Good luck this week!

Roselau Tue 01-Oct-13 13:16:42

Hi rootypig how exciting that you moved to LA from London!
we don't have a permanent place yet (currently in corporate housing in playa del rey), but my husband is working in Culver City, so we're looking around Marina del Rey / Venice / Santa Monica. Not sure we can afford it so may have to go a bit more inland.
I may send you DMs as I get there and have questions on everything smile

Roselau Tue 01-Oct-13 13:19:08

thanks peppermint
yeah you're right, i've been trying to make sure she has a to do list and feels useful. She is really helpful to run errands, clean, etc, but lacking on the mental support front, which is what I need most in this high stress time. She managed this morning to casually tell me that she really doesn't see me as a mom. So that's a bit hard but I just try and ignore it.

go Canada ! smile

rootypig Tue 01-Oct-13 16:11:39

Oh we are on the edge of Culver City! Santa Monica side. Do get in touch, yes smile

FreedomOfTheTess Wed 02-Oct-13 11:03:40

Just wanted to pop in and say hello. My family will be heading off to the US (Pittsburgh) at the end of the year. DH will actually be going at the end of November, as that's when the job starts, but I want our older two children to finish this term's schooling before we make the move as a family. DH is coming back over for Christmas - he's been allowed a few days for that - and then we'll all be making the move on 27 December.

Want2bSupermum Wed 02-Oct-13 17:28:59

Oh that is exciting Freedom I remember your thread!

Congrats Roselau! Nothing my mother says can rile me these days. I keep my mother busy with nothing stuff so she stays out of my hair. You are a brave girl having your mother 'help' you while you move.

miroam Thu 03-Oct-13 01:18:06

Hi! We have recently moved to the Bay Area in California, is anyone else nearby? My children start school tomorrow and I am a bit stressed, OK a LOT stressed! Just hoping they will be happy.

Californialiving Thu 03-Oct-13 06:29:27

Hi miroam, we are in San Mateo! When did you move over? Whereabouts are you?

If you need anything let me know. I know how hard the beginning can be!

Roselau Thu 03-Oct-13 08:14:48

will do rooty. i also read above and see you've been having SSN issues. I'm also going in as a non-immigrant spouse visa with basically absolutely no rights or working privileges. I'm actually still a UK resident as I'm getting my mat leave benefits here. Technically we are only in the US for a year - the time of my mat leave - but we'll see how things go. Thankfully I got a UK license, and DH bought us a car and put me on the insurance so I should be ok. I hear LA would be impossible to live in if you don't drive so I feel for you. I can come pick you up and we can go drive around together smile
The thing that's been more stressing me out because I can't get an SSN either is that I have to give birth in 2.5 months. DH says it's no problem, he's put me on the insurance, and we don't need SSN at the hospital or anything. I totally trust him, but I just hope everything goes smoothly. I have a Dr. appointment when I get there next Thursday so hopefully everything gets sorted then.

yeah want2b I'm trying to keep everyone happy because I know it's breaking their hearts to be so far when I'm going to have their granddaughter so soon. But I don't think she realises that letting her 'help' is actually a big effort on my side. I'm trying hard.

NatashaBee Thu 03-Oct-13 10:58:17

I don't think it will be an issue with the insurance Roselau. They will just want to see your insurance card and probably your DH's SSN and DOB on all the forms they ask you to fill out.

Roselau Thu 03-Oct-13 18:22:45

thanks natashabee ;)

rootypig Thu 03-Oct-13 20:01:23

Woo, after a morning at the DMV I am the proud owner of a permit! the written test was so easy - now I know why half the people on the roads here are muppets. And I didn't need the bloody SSN letter of denial - they didn't even mention it. Typical pointless US bureaucracy.

miroam Fri 04-Oct-13 01:23:03

Hi Californialiving! We are in Saratoga and arrived 4 weeks ago. It's all up and down to be honest, everything seems to be so much more complicated than you think it would be! I am also in the position of being here with my husband and having no SSN. I will also have to deal with the DMV soon too. So far hubby has been ferrying me around when needed but now the kids are in school that's not going to work! Will be sure to ask if I need any advice smile

SupremePizza Fri 04-Oct-13 11:57:17

Hi Californialiving and miroam! I think I'll be moving to south san francisco easrly next year and have earmarked San Mateo as a possible place to live. What's it like? I imagine it must be nice otherwise you wouldn't have chosen it smile

Californialiving Fri 04-Oct-13 23:34:49

Roselau, I am on my husbands H1b and don't have a SSN. We had our second DC Here.

Not having a SSN didn't make a difference at the hospital or any OB/GYN appointments. Your DH is right, all you need is insurance!

It was nice having my DC here, I felt very spoilt! I had my other son in the UK so it was completely different experiences!

Californialiving Fri 04-Oct-13 23:58:50

Miroam I wouldn't worry too much about the lack of a SSN. You can't open a bank account or any credit cards or any sort of account.

The DMV don't really care as long as you have your passport. Just be ready for a long wait! It really is a mundane place!

It is kinda crazy when you first get here and you find your feet. I remember what that was like. The mums groups here are fabulous and really helped me out!

Just let me know if there is anything you need.

Californialiving Sat 05-Oct-13 00:05:26

Supremepizza, we lived in San Carlos when we first moved here. It was really lovely. It has a cute downtown and very friendly people.

My husband worked in Palo Alto so the commute wasn't too bad. It also doesnt take too long to get into the city.

We stayed there for two years and then looked to move again. We love San Mateo. It's a little more multicultural, feels a little like back home.

But to be honest, we were happy to move to Redwood city, Belmont, San Carlos, San Mateo or Burlingame. All very good for families, good transport. If you need any help, let me know!

Want2bSupermum Sat 05-Oct-13 02:57:26

Hello West coasters! Rose Health insurance in NJ covers dependents so as long as the person with the insurance is here legally (ie they have a legit SSN) you are fine.

There seem to be a lot of Brits moving over. In my office there are a bunch of English people that just arrived, about 10 of them in total. It is quite exciting for me to have English people around but it freaked me out that I didn't notice their accents.

miroam Mon 07-Oct-13 17:49:01

Hi all! Supremepizza - not really familiar with the areas you are looking at beyond knowing roughly where they are. Hope your search and move goes well if you do make the move. Californialiving, thanks for the advice. Have joint bank account and card through husband so that is not a problem. Have heard lots of stories about the joys of the DMV though grin On the plus side, wasn't it a lovely weekend? We went to Great America and if anything it was a little bit too hot. On a much more lighthearted note, can't believe how big a thing Halloween is here! How much candy will I need to give out? Think the most people I ever had come to the door in the UK was 2!!

rootypig Mon 07-Oct-13 19:53:19

miroam I just had a brilliant time at the DMV. The staff were lovely. Make an appointment online before you go, bring your passport, and print off your I-94 (arrival record) here.

miroam Mon 07-Oct-13 21:18:40

Good to hear something positive about the DMV rootypig and well sone on getting your permit grin

Californialiving Mon 07-Oct-13 23:10:48

It was a GREAT weekend. I still find it strange that it's October and we are in shorts and t shirts! Though last Christmas eve we were on the beach with some friends! The weather makes it so nice and much better with the kids!

Halloween is huge here! People really do go all out with decorations and costumes. We have five different days to do trick or treating and a costume parade at DS1 preschool. We did buy lots of candy last year and will do again. And if we aren't at home on Halloween we just leave it on the porch. If you have any leftover, someone will be able to tell you where you can donate it, unless you want to eat it!grin

Christmas is also great! People's decorations here are amazing. You really do feel the Christmas spirit!

Californialiving Mon 07-Oct-13 23:11:57

Rootypig, it must just be our local DMV! I might be a tad biased, I just got a $500 fine in the post!shockshockshock

rootypig Wed 09-Oct-13 00:44:33

shock

rootypig Wed 09-Oct-13 00:51:21

what on earth for???

miroam Wed 09-Oct-13 02:31:29

I was going to ask that too grin

Californialiving Wed 09-Oct-13 05:59:49

For turning right on a red. The bloody roads were all empty, it was late at night, so I did a 'California rolling stop'.

And then came the fine confused. Because I didn't completely stop. But fines here are ridiculously expensive. $500, I could add in a little more and fly back to the UK!

rootypig Wed 09-Oct-13 06:28:25

Oh man, maybe I shouldn't get a license confused

rootypig Wed 09-Oct-13 06:39:04

LICENCE. Ffs.

Californialiving Thu 10-Oct-13 03:22:09

How has your move been rootypig? Are you settling in?

I'm glad its nearly the kids bedtime. The husband is out at a works do, so I'm ordering Chinese and having a or few beers. DS has hand foot and mouth so we are contained in the house for five days. FIVE! Feels
Like a lifetime!

rootypig Thu 10-Oct-13 19:13:20

It is ok. A bit painful. Shipping still not turned up, got to get my driver's licence then a car. I need to be patient about getting life here going - not my strong suit. But we are living in a UCLA family complex which means I have the godsend of play areas with other children and parents right outside the door - literally.

Do you work outside the home California or are you SAHP? I am struggling a bit to find things to do with DD, I miss my lovely sure start centres!

Californialiving Fri 11-Oct-13 03:06:03

I think it took me about two months to settle in. I joined baby boot camp, which is an exercise class that you can take babies and kids to. It helped me make friends and get some sort of routine.

I also joined local moms groups. I found them on big tent. We have been going to regular playgroups and made great friends! I really recommend it.

I'm at SAHM. I can't work because I'm on my husband's H1. It's been nearly three years since I've worked. If I'm honest, I really miss it. I love my kids, really enjoyed being there for them.....but now I want to work. Though there is the visa issuehmm

rootypig Fri 11-Oct-13 23:33:28

Thanks california for the encouragement. I need to be more patient in every way

Our shipping is in the port of Los Angeles so soon I will have more than two outfits and a bunch of other stuff I can't even remember and we are going to buy a sofa this weekend - luxury!

I swear I thought I'd be a grown up by the time I was 30. Sigh.

Goddamn I turn my back for a month to fly home, come back and find there's a ton of West Coasters crawling out of the cupboard!

Been in LA about 20months now - going to go back over the thread properly once DC are in bed and respond properly

Oh my goodness RoseLau and Rootypig I'm in Mar Vista, pleeeeeease can we have a meetup?! I've been desperate for some MNetters!

Also, Roselau I have several friends who've had babies in the last two years (two of them in the last 24hours!) at various west side locations so feel free to pm me your details I can pass on if you need some advice of where to start looking

rootypig Sat 12-Oct-13 03:24:15

We are in Mar Vista! I think??? Near Mar Vista park anyway.....

yes yes yes meeeeeeetup

We are 5min walk from the rec, amazing!!! How are you settling in now?

rootypig Sat 12-Oct-13 17:56:17

Then we are max ten mins from you! how ridiculous. I will PM you my mobile number, let's get together soon!

Roselau Mon 14-Oct-13 14:01:39

That would be great. We just found a place in Venice. Will be moving next Saturday. Excited to finally be settling since baby is due in two short months.
I have found a dr and will be delivering at cedars Sinai but if you have pediatrician recos closer that would be fantastic!!

Roselau Mon 14-Oct-13 14:04:53

Oh and rootypig we're also waiting for our shipment. Let's hope it arrives in the next few weeks. We just bought a mattress but that's basically all we have! Where did you get your couch? Any furniture store you recommend?? We're probably just going to go to ikea...
Good luck with the unpackingsmile

rootypig Mon 14-Oct-13 23:43:56

We just went to IKEA smile
Am going to pimp it a bit, but for the money they're great. Now I'm going to surf craigslist for every other conceivable piece of furniture....

I just went round to ATB's house! MN in real life, larks.

'twas lovely to meet you rootypig! Roselau you need to get in on the west side action - I'm a 10min bus ride from Venice.

Both of you join Brits In LA Facebook group, Westside Swap (though I might have to invite you to that) an there's this yahoo group called peachhead2 which is useful for stuff, things to do etc, all parents in LA again

rootypig Wed 16-Oct-13 04:02:30

thanks ATB, have joined all those smile

rootypig Thu 24-Oct-13 04:42:02

Two recent trivial yet important discoveries I thought that I would share

1. If you get the free add on Media Hint for Firefox it scrambles where in the world you are - BBC, ITV and C4 galore

2. if you order from Cult Beauty for a US address you don't pay VAT and my parcel wasn't charged customs either... saved so much the guilt of my extravagant purchasing almost entirely went away grin

CoolStoryBro Thu 24-Oct-13 04:55:53

I've just changed my MN settings so I see a whole thread in a page, so I'm probably painfully out of date but DO NOT drive over the month you are allowed before you get a license. And, afaik, all states only allow a month.

It's all great until you get rear ended and your insurance company goes into meltdown. Has happened to 4 of my friends.

NatashaBee Thu 24-Oct-13 13:35:29

When I started driving here I was told my insurance company (Geico) would cover me on my UK license for 6 months, even though MI laws say you have to exchange your license within 1 month. Not sure what they would have said if I actually had an accident.

OK, confused now. You need to be here for 4 weeks minimum to get a social security number and you need that to get a driving license, don't you?

Texas says I can drive on my UK license for 3 months. Passed my Texas theory this week, practical in 2 weeks...

CoolStoryBro Thu 24-Oct-13 18:10:22

I checked with DH and I got it wrong! Geico gave us 3 months to have a date for our driving test. Apologies, it's several years ago now so my memory is hazy!

However, I do have 4 friends who have separately had problems with their insurance for driving on their Brit license so it's really important to get it sorted.

CoolStoryBro Thu 24-Oct-13 18:30:14

Btw, the driving test is scarily easy. Mine was 5 minutes and I had to parallel park between two imaginary cars!! I was very relieved to find out 16yo learners have to have at least 50 hours driving experience, now DC1 is learning!

How are you finding Texas btw? There are some rumblings in DHs office of a possible Texas relocation and I don't really know how I feel about it.

Thanks Cool, the practical can't be that bad, I've been driving for over 20 years in various countries and have taken defensive driving courses. The theory test was a bit ropey though, remembering all the fines for offenses - why don't they ask more about road rules and signs?

Texas is good, we're in Houston, nice city, great people, good weather (except Jul / Aug!). Lots of different nationalities so a good cultural mix. Would you be Houston or elsewhere? Apparently Austin is more liberal than Houston but Dallas isn't!

rootypig Thu 24-Oct-13 18:41:11

parallel parking between two imaginary cars grin

it better be easy because I have it in ten days and have done no practice (rather difficult without a car hmm). Am driving MIL's car all weekend, it's the one I'm taking the test in, let's hope she doesn't kill me or I her

CoolStoryBro Thu 24-Oct-13 19:16:30

Good luck for both driving tests!

This would also be Houston. If it happens, DH will have to live there during the week at first as DS is a Junior at HS and there's no way we're moving him again until he graduates.

Rootypig let me know if you want I practice in mine during the week, you can if I'm with you and I have an extra car seat so we can take both DC

It's stupidly easy - I'd never driven before and passed after 3/4 lessons and a 10min test. Didn't have to parallel park

rootypig Fri 25-Oct-13 07:09:45

Oh bless you. Yes let's have a tootle! Take the kids to the beach?

trockodile Tue 05-Nov-13 00:15:34

Hi everyone smile
I am trying to send a Christmas box to a friend in the us and was wondering if I can ask if anyone has any advice about the best way to send a medium size box of misc presents-teddy/biscuits/choc/socks/magazines etc. it weighs about 4 kg and is worth about 70-80£. Should I split it down to avoid customs charges and make it cheaper to send? Priority is that I don't want it to cause any hassle for my friend. Do I need to give his phone number or just address? I don't actually have his number as we mostly chat on Facebook, don't want to ask him as would rather keep package a surprise! Also am I allowed to send pre-packaged food or do I need permission from FDA? Information online is so confusing.
Thank you so much for any advice-it would be very gratefully received!

NatashaBee Tue 05-Nov-13 02:24:36

What food are you sending? Chocolate and biscuits are fine and all you need to do is make sure you list each item out on the customs form - I would fill out the customs form as 'candy' and 'cookies' though because the customs officers are more likely to know what you're talking about! I imagine that a 4kg box will cost loads to send - When I send a big bag of M&Ms to my sister (US to UK) even that costs $15!

wentshopping Tue 05-Nov-13 02:36:02

Butterflies if you go to the social security office, you can get a tax id number which you can use to get your drivers license/take test - if you feel the wait is too long for the ss number.
It felt quite autumnal today didn't it? I turned the a/c off in the car!!!

trockodile if you have not already bought the gifts, might I suggest my cheating way of sending parcels? Go onto amazon for the country you are sending to, and buy it all there - cuts the postage down to a very reasonable amount. Even if you bought from the UK website and sent to US, it would still be very little compared with actual shipping costs. Alternatively, try splitting into printed paper - magazines etc (no letter allowed inside) and other items as they always used to go for different rates.

rootypig Tue 05-Nov-13 08:46:00

trock my brother just sent me some formula - would have been 1.6kg (2 800g packs) and it cost £20 shock. I have had various things (DD birthday recently) and no customs interest or charges - I would write on the form that it's a gift ie "Gift: chocolate, candy, etc." Post Office in UK said was fine to send baby milk and we had no trouble.

trockodile Tue 05-Nov-13 21:16:01

Thank you so much everyone-I have already bought the stuff so will just have to bite the bullet-postage can be ridiculous! I have sent flowers/a coffee basket/ bacon cookies etc through American companies but was trying to get something different for Christmas. Thanks for the tip about magazines-will send seperately. Mainly I just wanted to check there wouldn't be any hassle for my friend, and about americanising customs slip. thanks

rootypig Tue 05-Nov-13 22:25:09

You sound like a lovely friend smile

Roselau Wed 06-Nov-13 01:18:37

Hi!
did any of you ship your belongings from UK to US?
We had the movers come (in the UK) early September, and they mentioned the shipment would arrive in LA on Nov 22. but then it needs to clear customs, which could take another few weeks. arg I'm so upset! I'm due mid December and I really want my stuff before the baby arrives!!!
anyways - can any of you tell me how long your shipment took to clear customs?

NatashaBee Wed 06-Nov-13 01:51:19

Did you have a full container? If not it can take longer while they wait for another person's belongings to fill the rest of the container. We shipped a full container and it got here in about 8 weeks. It took a lot longer to clear customs as my husband shipped a motorbike in there and we needed to sort the paperwork for that. Otherwise customs should be fairly straightforward.

NatashaBee Wed 06-Nov-13 01:53:21

I doubt customs clearance will take a few weeks in there unless you have a car or something in there which needs special inspection.

rootypig Wed 06-Nov-13 02:01:23

Roselau we shipped with Anglo Pacific - they picked it up in London in June and it arrived last week hmm. We only had 17 boxes (clothes, linens, books, kitchen) so I think it was held for a while in their UK warehouse. Then it was selected for a detailed customs inspection and held up 2 more weeks and we had to pay $100 customs charge - doubly annoying. If you escape this random spot check it should clear customs in a few days, because they only look at the paperwork. For us, they looked in some of the boxes. Anyway I rang and harassed the shipping guys endlessly, so that once customs released it they would get it to us straight away, and they did.

wentshopping Wed 06-Nov-13 02:02:34

I think ours was a week or so... maybe 5 weeks from leaving UK? Fingers crossed.
My new house has been delayed so all my Christmas decorations (gathered over the last 20 years) and everyone's winter clothes are in a storage pod - I can't access it until they deliver it. So, shopping is called for!

Roselau Wed 06-Nov-13 04:16:13

thanks so much for the quick responses.
so we got the confirmation that it was arriving in LA on Nov 22, so I guess that's good news then that it's not being held up in the UK. let's hope they don't do that detailed inspection like for yours rootypig... it's just annoying because its going to be right around thanksgiving. So cross your fingers for me that it arrives at the latest early december. nothing dodgy in the shipment: 100 cubic feet of kitchen stuff, books, linens, baby stuff, etc. not even any furniture.
ugh i'm 34 weeks pregnant and am obviously in need of nesting, but my stuff is all over the world right now. some here, some in shipping and we still have stuff in a storage facility in canada...
plus, since i'm on maternity leave, budget is not as free flowing as it used to be so i'm trying to not spend too much. it's just such an emotional time...
anyways thanks again for the responses. i will let you know smile

wentshopping will you still get your new place before xmas?

wentshopping Wed 06-Nov-13 14:57:59

No, the builder is saying January now, plus I have some work to do after closing which I would really like to get done before the furniture goes in. Never mind, the rental we are in is nice enough (previous house sold very quickly, earlier this year) - it's just when I packed up the old house, I envisaged seeing all the storage stuff in September! It will make me appreciate the new house all the more, won't it?

Want2bSupermum Wed 06-Nov-13 18:20:22

Roselau I would call back on Nov 22nd and ask where it is. DH deals with shipping into Newark mainly. Last year they relocated someone with a pregnant wife. DH went down to the docks with someone from the moving company and got it cleared the morning it arrived so it can be done. He has access to the docks so can do that. The moving company should have someone with access to the dock. If you explain your situation of being heavily pregnant I am sure they would help you out.

BTW - Docks close for Thanksgiving....

Want2bSupermum Wed 06-Nov-13 18:22:15

rooty Buy formula on amazon.co.uk They can ship to the US for less than what your brother would have paid.

Ugh Roselau how boring and annoying for you - hope your stuff clears customs quickly despite thanksgiving

How are you settling in despite? Can't imagine how it must be to be so pregnant so please PM if you need help with anything! Or even just tea and cake

rootypig Mon 11-Nov-13 00:30:50

Thanks want2be - good idea but too late for me, and she's 1 now, whoop!

My good news is: I passed my driving test and DH bought a car! I am currently home seeing family so sadly can't cruise LA in celebration but life is looking a lot more exciting!

Roselau Tue 12-Nov-13 15:46:06

thanks want2b thats good to know that they can maybe clear it faster. I will call on the 22nd.

americas settling in ok. it's getting hard to move because I feel like a whale, but I have less than 6 weeks to go!! Where are you again? we moved into our new apartment (we are renting), it's right at Main and Rose, in Venice. I love it, and it's 4 minutes walk to the beach which is amazing.

Wow you are right in the middle of Venice!! So jealous, if it we're up to me we'd spend the money on location and be in a small apartment but DH is a antisocial bugger and wanted a detached house an garden - we're still not far from you though, in Mar Vista, biggest cross streets are Venice and McGlaughlin

homeworkmakesmemad Wed 13-Nov-13 16:36:13

Hi all! Hope you don't mind me gate-crashing your thread. Just found it and have had a read through to glean any vital info prior to our move. We head to Houston in January, from Scotland. Moving with my DH's company and it's all a bit surreal even now. Not sure it will really sink in until we get there.

One quick question for those of you with kids of school age. One of my DDs is in P2 here in Scotland (equivalent of Y1 in England) but we have been told that because she is a Sept birthday she will have to go into Kindergarten in Houston. We're really concerned that she will effectively be going back a year (at least!). We will be returning to the UK in 3 years time and are worried about reintegration to the Scottish system when we return, but also that she will be bored with the play-based structure of Kindy when she has had a year and half of formal education in Scotland. I have read things like "some children will even be able to read by the end of their kindergarten year" - for a child who is currently well onto level 5 ORT this does concern me slightly about what she'll actually be doing! Any advice/thoughts?

homeworkmakesmemad Wed 13-Nov-13 16:37:25

I should say that she will be in a private school not a state one - not sure if that makes a difference?

PeppermintBark Wed 13-Nov-13 17:40:27

If she's going into a private school, I find it strange they've told you she 'has' to go into Kindergarten. Mine are are both at private school and there are plenty of children who are a grade ahead, or even behind, for their age.

Anyway, when we were over here on our first posting, the DDs just went to the local state elementary. We explained that our DD1 had already done 2 years of school in England, and as we were only going to be there for a few years, we didn't want her to be behind when she returned to the UK. The school was quite happy for her to go in a year ahead and she did just fine. She was pretty mature for her age and mixed well with children a year older.

homeworkmakesmemad Wed 13-Nov-13 21:10:50

That's good to know Peppermint - are you in Houston/Tx? Our education advisor has told us it is Texas State law that children have to go into their age appropriate year group, and the only way around it is if they are coming from an accredited school elsewhere in the US which has a different school entry cut-off date (gave the example of Boston where the cut off is Oct rather than Sept) and the child has already started and can get full recommendations from their current school.

The kids have to go through testing to get into the schools anyway so she can certainly 'prove' her ability.

Since I posted earlier we have heard from 1 school which has said they might consider putting her into 1st Grade if it was in her best interests, but we have been advised it is unlikely and doubtful that any other schools will even offer it.

I too was surprised there wasn't more autonomy within private schools.

PeppermintBark Wed 13-Nov-13 22:07:19

No, we are not in Texas. KY first posting, MI now.

Sounds like Texas state law, in regards to this, sucks.

You could try posting on www.Britishexpats.com to see if anyone there has anything to add. I haven't used the site for ages, but from what I recall there were a lot of Texas based posters.

Good luck with sorting out your relocation!

wentshopping Wed 13-Nov-13 23:20:46

Hi homework - I'm in Houston. We moved here many years ago, but dd1 was in P1 (also moved from Scotland), and she finished that school year in K, and moved on into 1st grade. It's my understanding that you start 1st grade at age 6, so you have to be 6 on Sept 1st - is that where the difference is coming about? I agree if she is in p2, she might find K a bit boring. Can you explain to them that Scotland has a different cut off date? (it used to be March when we lived there). I do know of a child who was placed a year ahead - not an expat, just a regular kid - in our local state school - I don't know anything about private schools here. I also have a September dd, who is usually the oldest in her class.
Since mine were in early years, the curriculum has changed a lot - not much playing, more "discovering", early reading, individual worksheets, working in "centers" etc - eg when dd2 was in K they had afternoon naps, but that had disappeared by the time dd3 was there, as they had work to get through.
Do you know where you will be living?
Good luck with your move and feel free to pm me with any questions.

wentshopping Wed 13-Nov-13 23:32:42

ps, just googled TEA (Texas Education Agency) age to start school, and it sent me to a pdf "Frequently asked questions about Kindergarten"
qu 15 Can a 5 year old child be assigned to first grade? Answer = Yes, if they have already completed Kindergarten in another state - so I think your educational advisor is wrong - sorry I couldn't copy/paste it as it wasn't a webpage - maybe this shortcut will work?
www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&ved=0CD8QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.tea.state.tx.us%2FWorkArea%2FDownloadAsset.aspx%3Fid%3D5921&ei=wwmEUq6-E9S_kQeV84GwBg&usg=AFQjCNE-97vVwvi7MIKyKzqboCmCmT1lIQ&sig2=42wuezi-vYbIB5WRqZVLkw

homeworkmakesmemad Thu 14-Nov-13 14:52:01

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!!!!! This is exactly the kind of info I need to back up our case!

The British School have said they would put her into 1st Grade, but have no space for her - helpful wink Interestingly they would also move my DS up a year. He is in P4 here in Scotland, but as his birthday is in March he would be a year ahead everywhere else in the UK and as they are based on the English system they would put him ahead. I understand all the differences between equivalent year groups in the UK and different cut-off dates etc but the people we're speaking to just seem so confused by it all!

So far we have 1 school confirmed with spaces for all 4 kids and it is the one which will consider putting DD into 1st Grade so hoping we can secure places there and get it all sorted out. Just stuffed about a million envelopes with different forms their current school need to fill out so have put in the teacher recommendation forms for her as if she was going into 1st Grade as it is much more relevant to where she is actually at.

At the minute we're looking at Katy (probably around Cinco Ranch), Memorial and Lakes on Eldridge. Dh will be working on the energy corridor and school we're hoping for is in Memorial (I think!) so hoping for not too long a commute to school and work. (we currently have a 60second walk to school!)

wentshopping Thu 14-Nov-13 15:07:52

I live in west Memorial smile
Immunisations. Do them now - there are required Texas state ones, and I assume private schools are bound by this.. if they are so bound by the grade level thing. The last thing you want to be doing is getting here, scrabbling round to find a doctor, and proof of insurance so that you can get the shots done. Some are a course of three - get the first one done now. (HepA/men C??)
I can recommend good paediatrician, excellent paediatric dentist.
People get to work very early here - to miss the traffic... but if you are based in energy corridor, those locations should be 20-30 mins at worst. Rents should be cheaper in Katy/Cinco Ranch as Memorial has high local taxes for Spring Branch ISD - my local school district. All great places to live.
Often there is a school bus with a central pick up point for these private schools. I wonder if Awty is one of your choices. If you live Katy, Eldridge etc, then Awty is going to give you a lot of time sitting on the freeway in traffic. If you live close to Awty (more expensive end of Memorial Drive) then your DH will sit in the traffic. On the plus side it's right next to Ikea smile

wentshopping Thu 14-Nov-13 15:13:28

Get proof of no claims bonus to help ease the pain of car insurance premiums. It's so expensive.

Waves to Butterflies - how are you liking this Houston weather? Isn't it beautiful? We have a cold front, so it's not humid! Last night's cold should have killed off the mosquitos!

Went to see my new house, and the kitchen is in!!! Woo hoo!

PeppermintBark Thu 14-Nov-13 17:27:41

I think our cold front can trump your cold front grin. It didn't get above freezing on Monday here up in MI. warmed up a bit now, but my mood is not helped by DH travelling to places much hotter than here over the last three weeks - NC, FL and Brazil - and posting pics of sunny places on sodding Facebook.

homeworkmakesmemad Thu 14-Nov-13 17:28:07

Thank you shopping The schools we are looking at are Grace school on Ella Lee Lane and Faith West in Katy. We looked at Awty but not massively keen on it and knew we'd struggle to get in anyway. We have also enquired about Yorkshire and Village, but have been told we are unlikely to get in as they are always full with waiting lists. At the minute Grace is looking the most likely, but we know we'd get more for our money housing-wise in Katy than Memorial. My DH thinks Cinco Ranch wouldn't be too bad for getting to Grace - do you know at all? Someone has said to me that with the HOV lanes things are a lot quicker - would I qualify with 4 kids in the car? Def high occupancy but not sure that's really what they mean by it. wink I wouldn't mind sending the oldest on the bus and maybe even my DD after the summer, but couldn't put my DTs on when they're only 3 (or 4 after the summer) - other people I know do it, but I just don't think I could!

wentshopping Fri 15-Nov-13 06:58:08

Firstly, HOV lanes - yes, you can use them with children in the back. (As I discovered when I was pulled over in the HOV lane - cop looked into the back of the car and waved me on!) However, from Cinco Ranch to Grace, I think you would use Westpark Tollway and Beltway feeder road (Sam Houston Parkway/Beltway 8 - this is all the same road, just has different names) - no HOV lanes, but there are tolls.
Have you looked at Royal Oaks for nearness to Grace School?
For me, that would be a long commute, two or four times a day - assuming your children all have the same start/finish time. You might find the little ones have a much shorter day.
Yorkshire is actually on Memorial Drive (walking distance from my kids' old elementary school). That bit of Memorial Drive is going to start roadworks in the next year or so, which will make school run hellish... for Yorkshire, and the state schools and the church Mothers Day Out (like playgroup/toddlers where you leave them) along there.
Are you only looking at private schools? Katy ISD and Spring Branch ISD are very good school districts, and the local school would be very comparable to Yorkshire, for example. I will pm you a bit more detail.
Have you been able to come over for a recce visit?

homeworkmakesmemad Fri 15-Nov-13 17:38:17

You are a star shopping - thank you for all this info.

We are only looking at private schools, mainly because my Dh's company pays for it and we think it is too good an opportunity to pass up - not just from an academic point of view, but also just the resources available to them. (I also like the idea of them still having some kind of uniform - stupid I know, but it makes it feel a little more normal to me!) We are actually really excited about Grace and we are still going to look at Faith West. We love the idea of a Christian school and the kids are keen on it too.

We're coming over for a recce first week in Dec so will hopefully get the school sorted then and be able to look at houses, although we know we might not be able to actually secure one that week as it will still be about 7-8 weeks until we actually move. It will be good for us to get a feel for the place though. Flights just booked today so kids are super excited and it's beginning to feel a little more real now!

wentshopping Fri 15-Nov-13 18:33:45

Oh good, I am glad you are getting a visit before deciding on everything - if your company pays for private, then go for it - ours didn't. It will also help you if all your kids are in the same school in terms of logistics - at one point I had three dc in 3 different schools - meaning lots of parent-teacher night and end of year activity logistical planning. Do test out the traffic, but ignore how full the carparks are at every shopping location - Christmas shopping is in full swing here!
One thing you have to do is drive through one of the west Memorial neighbourhoods after 6pm, when it will be dark. They really like their Christmas lights on the houses smile. If I see a corker before your trip I will pm you!!
Oh and you might want to buy some uniform basics in the UK - they are pretty pricey here - I buy knee socks from M&S, for example.

Didn't realize this thread had moved on so much! Love the weather wentshopping, although having to load the kids up with mittens and tights after 5 years on the equator! Dd2 had never worn tights or gloves (or a coat!) before, a little shock to the system grin

Homework, we moved to houston in July so can't give you nearly as much advice as wentshopping but it's a good place to live. We have 2 dd at the British school but looked a t awty (they only had a place for one dd) and village school (both were offered places so maybe not so oversubscribed). We ended up at the british school as dh works centrally and we live inside the loop so it's a fairly good location for us. There are a lot of good schools around though.

You'll find a gazillion scots here in houston, and most expats have lived in houston whether they are Scottish or not! I'm fairly new here but settled quickly, it's a really easy place to live. Just reached the end of my driving license / work permit / social security red tape marathon which is a relief too!

kickassangel Sat 16-Nov-13 05:27:41

Someone upthread asked about containers clearing customs. We had a full container and it cleared within a week at New York. We were warned it could take longer, but I wonder if they give worst case scenario.

I hardly ever find these threads, but always get stupidly excited when someone mentions MI. Just waiting for the first proper snow now.

wentshopping Sat 16-Nov-13 05:50:57

I think a lot of people here don't have coats butterflies! Have you spotted flipflops and socks over the last couple of days? Supposed to be turning warm again now sad I have to admit I need to add a couple of minutes more to the getting ready for school routine when I have to squidge dd's arms into a sweatshirt too. (She's disabled so I have to dress her - phew its the weekend and I don't have to fight her legs into school trousers).
Butterflies - you're probably better placed than me to talk about a commute to school as you live inside the loop. With going to a local school, my dc have biked, walked and got the bus, but we could almost see the school from our old house. DD1 drives herself to school now - eek. You're right about it being an easy place to live.
Homework - are you going to look for a house with a pool? It is great in the summer.

Haven't spotted flip flops and socks yet but disappointed the weather has turned humid again ... Really enjoyed a week of boot and jumper wearing!

Homework the key to living in Houston is your family's commute. We were lucky in that DH has been working here on and off for years (and for 3 months before we left Singapore) so he knew where all the traffic jams and short cuts were before we started looking for houses. Basically, any freeway journey in rush hour is going to take time, whether you are driving in or out of town.

We live geographically central in Houston (West University Place) and DH works in Post Oak, takes about 15 minutes on average door to door for him. DDs are at the British School which is just outside the 610 loop, to the north west. I can drive them there in 25- 30 minutes in rush hour. Sometimes it can take longer coming home (40 minutes) but I figured that I was driving up to 15 hours a week on the school run.

Now they take the bus, which is about 20 minutes as the bus stop is a couple of miles up the road (less than 10 minutes). It works really well for us but I understand your DCs are younger. Ours started age 4 and 8 but they had been taking the bus to school in Singapore since nursery (aged 3) anyway. It's the norm there and was a huge deal for me, putting my baby on a bus to go to school. We got used to it quickly and the kids loved it. However, the US seems a bit scarier in that respect, especially as the roads seem less safe and the drive involves 7 lanes of traffic. However, the drivers are safe, the kids are strapped in and I guess it's part of letting them have a little independence - they both love it btw.

Check out your neighbourhood and look on google maps for route times at specific times of day (ie if school starts at 8.20, google the route at 7.45 Houston time and you'll see what kind of journey you can expect).

The lights are going up everywhere, some beautiful ones in our neighbourhood too (ours are coming next week), anything else, just ask!

homeworkmakesmemad Mon 18-Nov-13 16:19:50

Thank you all!

Want2bSupermum Wed 04-Dec-13 00:27:23

Rose I was thinking about you on Friday. Hope your container has cleared customs.

Roselau Thu 12-Dec-13 18:20:04

want2b sorry for the late reply. thanks for thinking of me! well the container has arrived in LA on nov 29th but not yet cleared customs sad we've played the preggo card etc. but they say nothing they can do. anyways I have chilled out about it. we have everything we need. still hoping it arrives before the baby but i'm focusing on the idea of having to give birth first and foremost and trying to not let other things frustrate me.
I'm due in 9 days. want to bet the day they come deliver, I go into labour?
hope everyone else is doing well. xx

Roselau Wed 18-Dec-13 20:39:44

Yippee the shipment finally arrived today!!! baby is not here yet so I'm trying to do as much as I can.

wentshopping Fri 20-Dec-13 03:17:20

Yay Roselau - time to do some nesting now!

Want2bSupermum Fri 20-Dec-13 20:55:27

You are a better woman than me! Happy to hear you got your belongings in time for Christmas.

soundevenfruity Sun 22-Dec-13 12:09:08

Sorry for butting in but I am trying to find out about such American curiosity as integrated microwave with extractor fan. It would be an ideal space-saving solution and Americans seem to like them but I wonder how practical it is. Has anybody had any experience? Many thanks.

PeppermintBark Mon 23-Dec-13 02:09:04

we had one in a house we rented, but I don't recall it being amazing. I don't know if they are vented to the outside, or just have charcoal filters in. I would think that if they aren't vented to the outside, they're not going to be fantastic, but it would be better than nothing. We currently have a hob with integral extractor fans and I don't like that as much as the traditional hood. Sorry not to be of more help.

soundevenfruity Tue 24-Dec-13 13:08:39

Thank you, peppermint. I will check what's available in UK.

Want2bSupermum Fri 27-Dec-13 04:01:52

We had the option to have one and decided against it. For having a proper extractor fan it would have been $700 against $100 for one in the pantry. You can get them cheaper but they recycle the air so I don't consider them extractors. Very happy with our decision as DD spends every morning watching her breakfast warm up. From a space saving perspective they can't be beat.

rootypig Tue 29-Jul-14 11:54:38

I have made a new thread, should anyone be interested smile

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/living_overseas/2145347-Living-in-America-2014

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now