Thursday, April 7, 2011

Peeps, Pups, Passports, and Politics

Long time no post! I ran out of steam and inspiration in the past few weeks. I've also been preoccupied with an onslaught of my kids' spring activities combined with a case of home improvement spring fever. My todo list just seems to get longer and longer as I struggle to keep up with the change of pace from sleepy winter to frenzied spring. Don't get me wrong, I'm delighted to see the warmer and longer days. I'm just trying to keep up with mother nature.

So, let's see how the alliterative elements of my post title relate to the craziness of the past week of my life (thanks to my sixth grader for reminding me what alliteration means). I will start with Pups and Passports. A couple of months ago, I renewed my kids passports. They were originally issued for a Disney cruise we took many years ago and had expired. My daughter needs hers for an eighth grade French class trip to Quebec in mid-May, so I decided to go ahead and get them both reissued. I was way ahead of the game and had the new passports in hand by early March.

On Monday of this week, I left the dogs closed in the office when I went out to run errands because I was expecting our cleaning service. I took a quick look around to make sure nothing was in easy reach of Laika, the 1-year old Aussie. I noticed a stack of papers to be filed which included all four of our passports and slid them to the back edge of the table with a box in front of them. Without a second thought, I closed the dogs in and headed out to tend to some business.

When I returned, I went to let the dogs out and did a quick survey of the room. Nothing looked terribly awry, but I did notice a paper on the floor which turned out to be my son's birth certificate. It was in that stack of papers - part of the passport application process that I had not yet refiled. The certificate was not damaged in any way, but it was a clue that Laika had gotten into my stack and prompted me to look further. Upon closer inspection, I noticed a second item on the floor which was in decidedly worse condition than the birth certificate, and I immediately recognized it as the remains of a passport. CRAP!

I lunged for the chewed up blue booklet mouthing a prayer to whoever cared that it was not Kathryn's.  I opened to the remains of the first page to see the tooth-marked photo of my daughter glaring at me with disgust. You must be kidding. Of the four passports to choose from in a two inch pile of paperwork, my dog decides to destroy the one I need in four weeks. It took every ounce of restraint in my body not to kick the goofy ball of fur straight to Canada - passport or no. (The gazillion dollar investment in her hips over the winter also factored into my flash mental weighing of the pros and cons of punting her).

As acceptance of the destruction sunk in, I switched gears to figuring out a solution. Hmmm, new passport needed in four weeks with my husband out of town (both parents must be present to apply for a minor's passport or a notarized document from the absent parent must be provided). As if that were not complicated enough, add the prospect of an indefinite government shut down beginning this Friday, and things really started to get iffy.

I ran to Google for an answer, and started to get a handle on what would be required to have a new passport in hand before the end of the week.  I was not going to trust the fate of my daughter's trip to the hands of Congress. My faith in their ability to keep the government running was/is thin at best. My husband and I were relative newlyweds during the last shutdown in 1995, and both of our jobs were impacted - his as a NASA employee and mine as an onsite NASA contractor. We sat home for three unpaid weeks in December wondering how we would make our mortgage payment and get our failing heat pump fixed. That one lasted 21 days. A similar shutdown this time, while not entirely likely, would potentially doom our chances of getting a new passport.

I won't drag out the gory details any further except to say that 36 hours of e-mails, phone calls, notaries, documents, post offices, Fedexes, passport photos, early dismissals, fees, and a 16-hour-round-trip-flight-from-Florida later, we have a new passport on the way. Again, if I had any confidence in Washington DC's ability to keep this country running beyond Friday, I would have had other options, but I wanted that passport in hand before the country grinds to a halt.

So that covers Pups, Passports and Politics. How do the Peeps fit in? I'll save that for Part 2. My devotion to Peeps could make me even more long-winded than usual (not to worry, the title for the next post will still work as an alliteration thanks to the P in Part)...

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