. . . check.

Now it’s getting hard to sleep.  With less than two weeks to take off, urgent reminders of unfinished details fill every minute.  The checklist for this one-year sojourn is huge.  However, when I look back on all we’ve done, I’m assured we are on the home stretch.  While the inception of this adventure started nine years ago, it wasn’t until 2010 that the planning got serious.  While I hunted the internet for advice on moving abroad for a year, the specific questions I had were hard to find.  Finally, I stumbled upon an awesome blog entry from a man in New Mexico.  He offered a conclusive checklist on applying for a residence visa.  So, in an effort to pay-it-forward (or just shamelessly present the fruits of my labor)  I wish to list not only the very general components of the visa project, but EVERYTHING we had to do to make this dream come true.  Here is is:

Find someone to live in our house.  Teach them how to run the sprinklers and  appliances and direct them on who to call if the water pipes break or a rodent gets inside. Find an apartment in Italy and sign a long term lease.  Transfer all bills to an electronic payment method.  Get an international driver’s license.  Find someone to take care of the plants and gardens.  Sell the cars.  Notify the people who send us election ballots that we will be at a new address.   Make a visit to Italy.  Open a local bank account in our new city.  Apply for  an Italian social security number (codice fiscale).  Buy an Italian cell phone.  Enroll the kids in Italian schools.  Put a hold on our current insurance.  Then get international health insurance.  Stop the newspaper.  Order new copies of our marriage license.  Copy all bank statements for the consulate.  Sell our cars.  Renew the boys’ passports.  Set up Skype accounts.  Buy plane tickets.  Make travel arrangements from the Rome airport to our place in Perugia.  Pack all the belongings we might need for a year away.  Study Italian.  Make the kids study Italian.  Order a rap sheet from the FBI proving we aren’t dangerous criminals.  Get 12 color and 4 black and white passport photos each for all the required documentation.  Stock up on my favorite US products just in case they don’t sell them there.  Pack and mail two boxes of personal items.  Apply for visas.  Listen to the consulate and then vice consulate tell us that our visas would not be granted.  Keep trying. Wait a long time for our visas to arrive.  Clean and organize our house for new residents.  Figure out how to make a blog.

And finally, we needed to find a new home for my son’s hamster.  We never imagined he’d live this long. So yesterday the boys and I dropped him off with his new owners. Then we made a hasty exit.  As I drove away, I reminded my sons that they gave little Eli a good home and a good life.