Theresa Lear Levine picture

Passports and Panic II

I know you guys are wanting an update on this whole passport scenario.

So I’m actually recording this episode the morning before our trip to the Dominican Republic.

And I have good news!

We all have valid passports that are good for at least six months after our date of re-entry!

Yes, if you listen to my Becoming More Me Podcast episode 39, you understand the panic that we were in. If you didn’t, let me give you a little recap…

We are no strangers to last-minute passport needs. Unfortunately, five years ago, when we went to the Dominican last time, and we’ve been to other places since then, thank goodness and gotten to use those passports. We realized the day before our trip that the kids needed passports, not just their birth certificates. And it was a crazy, crazy time!

And I miss quoted on the last episode about it being around $600 It was actually more like around $800 As I was reminded yesterday because I don’t think the prices have gone up that much. Maybe they have maybe it was around $600 Then, but yesterday was no work. That’s okay.

We’re just so grateful that this is all working out. And this is a scenario where EFT tapping has come in very handy. It’s a scenario where mindset, law of attraction, believing in things working out and putting your focus where you want your energy to go. And flow has really been beneficial, which is the whole reason I shared this story in the first place.

I don’t have a travel podcast.

I don’t have a travel business, obviously, or I know this crap.

But I do think that we all come up against situations that require us to dig deep, find the best in ourselves, and work through it with the best mindset possible, even though we just kind of want to crawl under a rock and cry.

So when we realized that we needed the passports to be updated for the kids, Jeff was good. Mine was good. All four kids basically needed new passports. That was March 6, today is March 22. So we have had a little over what two weeks, is that right? I can’t do the math. So yeah, two and almost a half weeks between when we learned and when our trip is on the 23rd. So our first thought was Okay, last time, we didn’t realize this until less than 24 hours before our flight. And we figured it out.

We have two and a half weeks now. We will figure it out. So we realized on a Sunday, we couldn’t do much as far as calling the passport office until Monday. And again, thankfully, we have weekdays involved, because if we had had this realization last time on a Saturday or Sunday, and like if we were had the realization on a Saturday, and we were leaving on a Sunday, we would have been screwed. We had the realization on a Tuesday, and we were leaving on a Wednesday, all was okay passport offices were open, it was pre COVID, we were able to just walk in and take care of it.

And it all worked out.

Universe really worked with us on that.

So two and a half weeks. So my husband calls the passport office on Monday. And he’s like, this is not looking good. And so with COVID protocol, things are just different now. So when you listen to this, take that in mind that things could be drastically different than even what I’m saying, for better or worse.

But they wouldn’t allow us to make an appointment until it was less than two weeks until our trip. And then it was just going to be a matter of where and when they had one. Also, we were informed that we wouldn’t have the appointment until it was within five business days of our trip. So even though we had two and a half weeks, it was going to come down to an appointment happening somewhere between the 16th and the 22nd.

It could have very well been the day before the trip.

It could have been a little bit before last weekend. But it was not going to be ours to decide when it was going to be and that was pretty much made clear that we were kind of at their mercy for what was available and where it was available. We confirmed that there was no potential possibility of walking in to the Washington DC office, which is what we did last time, and that we would need an appointment. So we were like cool. We will call back on, you know, Wednesday of that week, and we will we’ll get an appointment for Washington DC great.

It’ll be Okay.

This will all work out.

So we kind of put it aside again, because again, nothing we can do within the guidelines. And just like it’ll work out, we will get the appointment fine. My husband calls back to get the appointment. And the nearest appointment they had was in Buffalo, New York. They had some in Albuquerque and on the West Coast, and you know, heck might as well look at Hawaii while we’re at it and get a better vacation out of this necessary update trip, right? Goodness gracious, I, I really couldn’t believe it.

At first, I was like, This is crazy. We’re just gonna have to go, I guess. And so my mindset at first was like, Okay, we will plan for it, this will be an extended, extended version of our vacation. The appointment was on the Monday before our trip on a Wednesday. And that’s what we did. You know, I mean, I had hope, up until a day or so before that maybe we could find some last-minute appointment.

But when we call back to the passport offices to check, as we did a few times, you know, hey, maybe something else came available, we were basically told that we were lucky to have gotten what we got. And without them being, rude or saying it directly, they pretty much told us don’t waste your time, you’re super lucky that you got four appointments in the same place, you know, with a little bit of time for wiggle room before your trip.

So we counted those blessings. And also, counting the blessings that we have the time, the flexibility, and the means to extend our trip and take that time off, and take the kids out of school unfortunately for the day, which would have happened even if we had to do in DC, because their business hours or school hours so and a trip to the passport office is not quick.

But I will say those people were so efficient and also super friendly in Buffalo. So my husband had this feeling that like our point was at 1130, they weren’t going to let us in until at least 1115. And that was that. My feeling was let’s go early and see when she kind of laughed at me.

But you know what, we went early, and we got in early. And it did help with things. So I’ll give you some details that might help if you’re going through this and also just kind of share what we did.

So we left on Sunday morning. And this also involves us rearranging plans for our dogs to go to the kennel and everything else because we weren’t going to drop them off until today, the day before our vacation because we’re leaving pretty early and our kennel is awesome, but they have some pretty strange drop-off and pickup hours.

So we were gonna drop them off today. So they get they’re getting two more days at the kennel which you know, you get a little bit a dog mom guilt about? Because I don’t know, I don’t know. I’m hoping they’re loving it. This is the first time that our puppy Mowgli is going with our older lab latke. And they get to like stay in the same area together. I’m just hoping they don’t totally like bite the crap out of each other. Mobley has these puppy teeth. And his favorite thing to do is to latch on to latkes jowl. And I mean, I’ve watched latke run across the yard with a puppy attached to his gel. And he has this patch of scabs. He does not seem to care about every now and then he puts him in his place.

And the trainers and all you know people who know dog stuff, keep saying hey, when when the older dog gets upset about it or sick of it, he will put the puppy in his place. He’s probably not as bothered by it as you are. So I’m trying to lean into that and just be like, okay, cool. They’re doing dog stuff. And this is stuff that lot. He didn’t get to do a whole lot when he was a puppy because he hasn’t had another dog around. So new experiences for him. Hope he’s enjoying it.

But I’m just hoping they do.

So it’s a different environment for them for sure, than what they’re used to. And I’m already super excited to pick them up next Monday. So we dropped the dogs off at the kennel and then we began the drive. So we had a hotel booked.

My husband took care of that as soon as he got the appointment in Buffalo. And we knew where we were going. And we also knew that, you know Buffalo New York has some things near it that are fun to see, like Niagara Falls and some things that are fun to eat like original buffalo wings, and you never know what you’re gonna find. We love to explore. And we love to eat at new places. And we’re like making the best of it. So we hit the road and we were on the road by about 830 After we dropped the dogs off. And we took a scenic route.

So we drove through all of these state forests and things that I believe are part of the Appalachian Trail. And it was beautiful, sin, wildlife, just beautiful trees, and it’s the time of year here where the trees are still bare. There’s no leaves on them quite yet. But there’s a lot of new spring green color budding moss on the floors of the forests and there were all the really pretty little creeks.

That was my favorite part, I kept noticing like, oh, the creek, it’s still running beside the road.

And it’s really pretty, or there’s a little waterfall or a little drop off lots of trains running alongside the road, and lots of very rural towns that we drove through. So I always like to kind of have those conversations with the kids.

When driving, do you ever imagine what it’d be like to live in a house like this or like that, and, you know, pointing out houses on the water, big houses, little houses, we went through one area on the water, where they had like these, I don’t know, if they were like, for camping, or fishing or whatever, these little teepee looking house structures out on stilts, on the little island out in the water. Super cute.

What would it be like if you lived there, you know, and just kind of thinking, hey, if we weren’t where we are, what might our life be like. And also that allows you to dream about what your life could be like, if you feel like that is a better version, or to lean to gratitude if you don’t feel like it’s a better version, and to just realize all the different, different strokes for different folks and all the different ways that people live and enjoy themselves and carry out their lives in all different areas of the world.

So we enjoyed the drive. And my husband’s amazing he did all the driving, I always offer but I don’t get taken up on it. So we did all the driving there and all the driving back and also picked out the route so that we could see new things. And he has a he has a radar for finding ice cream places. So you know, a day without ice cream is like a day without water or something for, for him and for our boys.

And we’re on travel and you know what I enjoy along with them. But we found a roadside place that had so many choices for ice cream. And I’m like, when you have a family of six, you know that going out for ice cream can be quite a hefty bill. You know, I mean, we’ve we’ve paid anywhere upwards of like, you know, 60 or $70 for the family to have ice cream, and we’ve paid a heck of a lot less.

But we all got exactly what we wanted, whether it was a Sunday or a cone or toppings or whatever, you know, no, no limit on what people ordered and chose. And her pill was like $21 at this place on the side of the road. It was insane. You know, like how can I even afford to stay open. But amazing. So we had some ice cream on the way up. We had some lunch and we we got to Buffalo trying to think it was it was around a little bit before dinnertime, I think we got there about four. So it was it was pretty good.

We made good time. And we took some stops. It was rainy, we had hoped that we actually stopped in some of the state parks and take some walks, we had an original plan, like Okay, we’ll stop at each state park that has an area where we can pull off and park and we’ll take a half mile walk and then we’ll get back in the car. But that did not pan out. Fun idea though.

We’ll do it another time. But we got to Buffalo earlier, which was good too, because we wanted to go to Niagara Falls. So we got chucked into the hotel and went down for the happy hour and the snacks and things. And then we went to Niagara Falls and we took a walk. Unfortunately they are fortunately for people that will go in the future. They are building or renovating a brand new welcome center.

So that’s going to be amazing. But my kids were joking because they had these pictures of what it was going to look like. And it said it was a fully immersive experience, which we were joking about, you know, nobody wants to be fully immersed in the falls. It’s pretty dangerous. But it looks amazing. But that meant that there was a lot of stuff that was kind of cordoned off and pathways that you couldn’t walk on right now. But you were still able to get to the main pathway and find your way there. It just made for a little bit of an obstacle.

But it will be amazing, I’m sure when you’re done it. So we walked along the falls just on the American side, because unfortunately, even though I think we could have gone into Canada, even with the expiring passports, we they’re still doing COVID testing to cross the border until April 1. So we didn’t want to waste the time or the money to get a rapid test to go over to the Canadian side even though I fully believe that it is way more awesome to look at it from over there.

But well, what I found really cool about going to the falls this time of year is that I’ve been there several times always in the summer. And this time there was big chunks of ice and like ice structures that had kind of built themselves around areas where there was rocks and things and this whole area below the main falls that just looked like snow. And just really cool, neat to see it that way. And to feel the cold mist. And just I don’t know being near that water for me.

I always love there is such an energy that comes from water and waterfalls. You can watch you know videos about the energy and the just the frequencies and everything around there. And I love that feeling and just being conscious of that and you Mira, I also love the sound of the water, I could just listen to a recording of the water sounds from around the falls and sleep. Just so soothing to me.

And just being that close to it and seeing the sheer force and depth and just, it’s absolutely beautiful, also terrifying, amazing, astonishing. It’s so many things, so I love visiting those falls. And it was Jordans. First time seeing them. Last time we were at the falls, he was in my belly.

So it was a new experience for him. And great to just get out of the car, stretch our legs, see something in a new way, even if we had seen it before. And then we had thought about going to anchor bar, which is known kind of as the original place for Buffalo wings. And we’ve been there before, it’s great.

But along the lines of trying something new, we looked at other places that are known for really good buffalo wings, and we tried to place called Duff’s it was also amazing. So that was fun, and really cool. Because even though we make wings ourselves and enjoy them from time to time here, my oldest son has never really taken a liking to eating them. He doesn’t really like the bones in them. He’s kind of picky, he’s, I always joke that he’s pretty much a vegetarian, but he’ll, you know, he had a chicken breast from time to time.

So I was surprised that he actually really enjoyed them and devoured quite a few. He was like, Ah, this is my new thing. Love it, and had a lot of questions about them. Like, are these really good wings? Or are these just average? Like, how do these compare, I thought they were pretty phenomenal myself. And the sauces were amazing.

We just got they have, I don’t know, like 10 Different levels of sauce. But they get pretty hot pretty quickly. I like hot, I like heat. So does my husband and you know Jaden doesn’t mind it. And even my youngest who will pick it up is pretty good. With some heat, although he was say they wanted the sauce off this time. So you know, you never know what people are going to want. In our family.

Everybody always wants something different.

There’s always like six different versions of even the same meal being had at the table at any given time. But everyone was really pleased. My 12 year old ended up just getting like they had chicken fingers there. But they were like massive. Like if you go to Tufts and you think the kid’s meal, chicken fingers, because they say there’s only two of them is going to be too little. It’s like, the chicken fingers are like six or seven inches long. But they were like three inches wide.

They were like patties, and they were delicious. So he kept saying this is amazing. I love it when we try new places. And it’s so unassuming here, but it’s so delicious. I love hearing I love hearing my kids appreciate places in that way and in such a sophisticated way.

So he enjoyed it, we enjoyed our wings, loved getting to see them experience it. And then after that, it’s time to it’s time to wake up that said 12 year old and get on with the day or sending them to school today. So that they can at least get this day in since they missed yesterday. And they’ll miss the rest of the week. But

we enjoyed it. We enjoyed deaths. And then we went back to the hotel room got settled in got a good night’s sleep. And I didn’t bother setting an alarm. I thought I’d wake up early and maybe you know, do some things that I like to do stretch or get a little work done or whatever. But I woke up, went to the bathroom, went back to bed and no regrets no second thoughts.

And it wasn’t until Jordan woke came in around seven o’clock and said I’m ready to go. Okay, me too ready to give up. And it felt good to stay in bed. I don’t really remember the last time that I was in bed past 7am. That’s probably happened in the last few months, but maybe only once or twice. So it’s not something I do very often. And we got up we enjoyed the Embassy Suites hotel breakfast, which the kids always like you know, the Make Your Own belgian waffles and oatmeal and cereal all the carbs, geez. But had a nice breakfast. And then we packed up and it was time to head to the passport office. We wanted to make sure we were early. We had driven by it already so that we knew where it was kind of assessed parking situation, all the things because you know, like you can’t miss this appointment.

If you’re late, if you don’t show up, if something goes wrong, they’re not rescheduling you and you’re out of luck. So we were very diligent about making sure that we knew where it was how to get there, and where we were going to park and how to plan and also we had the box.

So if you’ve ever applied for a passport, you know there’s a passport application, you have to go get photos we had gone and gone to that just the UPS store near us and had the photos taken. We thought about taking them ourselves. You can totally do that. But I’m like I am not taking chances I’m going somewhere and making sure they do it right. There’s no shadows. It’s all acceptable. Our kids all look like bums in their pictures because like we didn’t plan to go and get the pictures. They have like you know hair sticking up and hair sticking out and they look all raggedy but whatever. That’s their passport picture for the next five to 10 years.

The 16 year old was able to get an adult passport so that’s nice. He has 10 years As the rest of the past five, but there’s a lot you have to do and get together. And we were like, dotting our eyes and crossing our T’s twice, we had, you know, extras of the blank forums in case we needed to fill them out again or correct something, we had already filled out the forms, because you know, you need your kids height on there, you need all sorts of information to be collected, you need their birth certificates, the you know, the ones that have a seal on them.

The official ones, we had their old passports, we had those passport pictures that we had gone and gotten, we had copies of our driver’s licenses, we had our passports, all the paperwork like so, I take in, I have in my office, this, I call it my vision casting box. Instead of doing like a vision board or whatever, I throw, you know, whatever in there that I’m dreaming about. And it goes in the box, I looked through it from time to time, I kind of put an focus and energy towards it, I cleared out the box, because I’ve been meaning to redo the box.

And we use my vision box to take everything in there. And you know, the itinerary which has a picture of Puntacana like, this is perfect, like we’re everything in here is about getting on this vacation, it’s our vision and working to make it come true by going to Buffalo and getting these passports, of which we did. So it’s all in the box, we all guarded the box and joked about the box and, you know, took very good care of the box.

And we went in the morning and we got there early, and they let us in early. And that was awesome. And we went up to the window and we checked in that’s part of the process. And then you sit down until they’re ready to actually like you know, give you the oath and review your paperwork, make sure everything’s good. And I’m trying to think we probably got there around 1030.

They let us in then I think we were out of there a little afternoon, we were taking bets about when we would be out. It was like 1211 When we finally walked out the door. And then here’s the thing that you need to realize if you’re doing this same day, is that you get asked to come back at a certain time to pick them up. So it would have been nice to have been able to get on the road at noon, with passports in hand. But instead we had to come back at three. Now the security guards did tell us hey, come back at 245.

So we did and pick them up. But so we had some time to kill, no big deal. We found a great deli to go have some sandwiches in. And it was amazing combination of kind of like New York deli and Mediterranean food, which was a great blend of things that our family likes. So my husband could have a ribbon and I could have an amazing Greek salad with Pita and everybody was happy.

And then we actually went and did a little shopping, we had time and my youngest needed some some new pants, and we were looking for a few last minute things for vacation. So we did a little bit of shopping. And then you know what I said about a day without ice cream, we found a place that was kind of signature to the area. That was called Anderson’s. So we had lunch at Sue’s new york Deli.

And then we had custard and ice cream at Anderson’s and both were delicious, highly recommend. So and then it was time to go back and pick up the passports. So we did that. And then we got on the road, we knew we needed to pick up some milk because we were going to be home for today. And the kids use it for all different things. And we were on our way. So you know a little stop for gas on the way home and to pick up milk and to grab dinner. I had my leftovers from lunch I had so my salad was enormous.

So good chicken soup, Lucky Greek salad, it was delicious. But I ate it for both meals. But everybody else needed a little something for dinner. And we were home by a little after 1030 at night. So then it was a matter of you know, unload the car, unpack so that we can repack for the actual vacation, get the kids to bed so that they can wake up for school and you know, get some sleep ourselves.

So here we are.

So that’s the update. We all have passports on hand all as well. And I feel much more relaxed now. And if you have to go through this, I hope that some of our information and insights have helped you please let us know if you have I’d love to hear your stories and know that we’re not alone in our planning issues and lack of foresight with some of this stuff.

But it all worked out anyway. And we enjoyed a couple of days in Buffalo all as well. So the mindset helped out a lot there.