Sunday 30 January 2011

GOMA a Go Go

This past Friday I decided to go into town and I took Blondie Boy to one of my favourite places in Glasgow, The Gallery of Modern Art or GOMA as it's more colloquially known. I'm a big fan of modern art in general and like all the public museums in Glasgow it is FREE! The building was originally the home of a wealthy tobacco merchant but has had many incarnations before becoming the museum which is the most visited modern art gallery in Scotland! It's also locally infamous for equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington which 9 times out of ten will have a traffic cone on its head.

The ground floor is where Gallery 1, which is a large space with a full wall of windows and massive ceilings, resides and it's normally the main exhibition. I have to say I was a bit disappointed because right now it's "Hertie Querty: Playful and Mischievous Works from the Collection" so sort of a best of if you will. The title is from old Scots. 'Hertie' means persons fond of fun, and merry. 'Querty ' means in good spirits, full of fun and mischief. A lot of the works on display were works that normally reside in other Galleries in the museum so I'd seen most of them before.

Blondie Boy seemed to like Roderick Buchanan's "Gobstopper" which is a film of children being driven through Glasgow's Clyde Tunnel, which is a road tunnel underneath the Clyde River. The children was mostly all trying to hold their breath the length of the drive which is about a minute. Blondie Boy loves watching other children so this didn't surprise me. The film was previously in Gallery 2 so I'd seen it before.

Blondie Boy wasn't sure what he thought of Jim Lambie's "Seven is Seven or Sunshine Bathed in Golden Glow" but Lambie was nominated for the Turner Prize and I'm a fan in general of anything with mirrored mosaic so it gets a mention. I also wasn't sure if I was allowed to take photos or not so this is one of the few pieces I thought I could get away with snapping a picture!

We went up to Gallery Two next but the film showing was in a really dark room and Blondie Boy didn't seem too keen so we went around the corner to the far back of the Gallery and I found what has to be one of the best kept secrets for children in Glasgow.

There was a wee nook full of children's creations and a shelf full of books, crayons, pencils, paper, projects, foam blocks and those beads on wire things if you know what I mean. Blondie Boy loved sitting in the just his size purple chair and colouring a picture for his Daddy.

I don't know about other children, but Blondie Boy loves exploring and speed-crawling (he's crazy fast) around new spaces he's never been before. So he really enjoyed just being able to crawl around and play with the blocks as well.

The strangest thing had to be when he pulled a book off the shelf, as he likes to do and I thought it looked strangely familiar. Umm, yes it looked familiar for a reason: it was part of a series of art books I modelled for when I was much younger.

I've seen the books in the States and I knew there were international versions since my Mom has Russian and Japanese versions but I'd never seen them in Scotland before. So here I am in all my glory telling children to put out a tablecloth and put on an old shirt before you work and for goodness sake's don't eat paint it's yucky!

I'm just like Gisele B√ľndchen, right? We had a really fun time together and I'm looking forward to taking him back again and exploring some of the other galleries. The museum has programs/classes for children during the school holidays and also every Saturday but they say they are geared for ages 3-11 so I'm not sure if it would be appropriate for Blondie Boy just yet.

GOMA is very child friendly and has two baby-change stations on the top and basement floors. There are high-chairs in the cafe in the basement and quiet breastfeeding spaces are available upon request. GOMA is a short walk (under 2 minutes) from Queen Street Station or a five minute walk from Glasgow Central Station.

Thursday 27 January 2011

In the Kitchen with Abby

Abby, from Life with B&A, is one of the amazing group of women that I'm part of that all have babies around the same age. She's a fellow Midwesterner and one of the most upbeat and generous people I know! She's going to help y'all with one of the things I am absolutely horrible at: cooking meat :)

Hello everyone! I am A to to the B @ Life with B&A. I'm Abby and native Midwestern gal raising my now 9 month old son Drew that I personally think it adorable, but I could be bias. I'm married to B, hence the Life with B&A....You get the the picture. We like living our little life in Iowa, and have no complaints, other than the really cold winters and really hot summers, but what are ya gonna do?

So you're probably wondering what the heck I'm going to talk to you about today. Well, so glad you asked! Since I'm a busy working mom, I find little time to cook. Although I still love me a good dinner at the end of the evening and it has to happen when the little man is awake. So we have to juggle. I like to find some recipes that are easy peasy, have few ingredients and I can prepare early.

So today I'm going to share with you a recipe that was shared with me a few months back and Brendan, my hubby says it's company good. As in if we have company over, I can make it, it's that good. It's called Asian Style Pork Chops and just writing this has me drooling because I'm now craving them!

So here's what you will need:
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 onion chopped
3-4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons peanut butter

Blend above in blender and out in put in large gallon Ziploc bag, add in 4 pork chops and marinate for 6 hours. Grill when ready. We also baste with the extra sauce. These seriously are the mostly delicious pork chops we have ever had! I hope you enjoy them. I usually make the sauce and marinate the chops overnight, this way the next day we just throw them on the grill and VIOLA, dinner is served!

Monday 17 January 2011

If my jeans could talk, would I be embarrassed?

5 sizes Old Navy Jeans 10, 12, 14, 16, 18
See those? That's Old Navy The Flirt Boot Cut Dark Wash Jeans; I own 5 pairs (not counting my ON Maternity Jeans) in 5 different sizes. In the past three years I've been all 5 sizes. Fall of 2007 I decided to try the South Beach diet and that combined with exercise meant I lost over 50lbs. Then we got married, I changed jobs and quit my gym, got pregnant had a baby and got fat all over again.

I blogged about putting back on a stone (14lbs) two years ago and to be honest I had totally healthy weight gain while pregnant with Blondie Boy (I had one hell of a bump) so I have no one to blame but myself.

I've been happy in all those jean sizes except the last one, that nasty US 18.

I was happy as a US 16 before I lost any weight, but now I'm back in those 16's again, but it's not the same. I feel heavier, tired and unmotivated. I went out in fairly tight tops and short skirts before but not a chance now. My stomach was sliced open and I don't have a muffin top, I have a muffin spill over. I don't begrudge having my emergency section one second, but I can't deny that it's left my body a different shape than it was before.

Don't get me wrong I love my curves. I love having an hourglass figure and I will never be one of those skinny girls, but I also know I'm not this girl I am now either. This isn't my body and I'm not me. I'm not carrying this weight in a healthy way and it's not good for anyone.

I'm so picky and careful about what Blondie Boy eats. I try to make sure everything is organic, home made, no sugar, low fat and low salt. He drinks nothing but water or formula and lots of fruits and veggies. I eat crap.

I'm a hypocrite! While I'm feeding my son meticulously, I'm drinking an Irn-Bru and eating a Gregg's chocolate covered donut. I want to set a good example for Blondie Boy and while I know he isn't absorbing my unhealthy eating now I don't want to be a hypocrite.

So I'm calling myself out. I'm calling myself a fatty boom batty, lazy, unhealthy hypocrite and I'm going to do something about it. I'm tired of sucking it in, turning my hips and bending my knee in photos to make myself look slimmer. I'm tired of dreading the thought of wearing anything out of the house other than sweats. I'm tired of not feeling like myself in my own body.

So that's that and I'm going to something about it and so is NotBlondeHusband for that matter. We both are going to eat healthier and be healthier not just for ourselves, but for our son.

My baby sister is getting married this October and all of us are the in wedding. I think ten months is a fairly healthy timeline for getting in shape and getting healthier--don't you?

And you lucky people get to cheer us on the whole way, or at least I hope you'll cheer us on? Will you be our cheerleaders....please?

Saturday 15 January 2011

Sick Boy

Blondie Boy has had a cold and cough for the past week. Is there anything worse than a sick baby? They just look so pathetic and cute even as they rub their wee noses on you and leave snail trails on your shoulders. I don't like to give Blondie Boy medicine he doesn't need so the when he's sick we make sure he gets lots of fluids and lots of cuddles.

We got the chance to try a Karvol Vaporiser which promotes clear, easy breathing in a plug-in format that is clean and simple to use. Each vaporiser pack comes with three refills which contain a unique combination of aromatic oils - pine, cinnamon and menthol to help you or your child to breathe more easily. Each user-friendly refill lasts up to three nights and is suitable to use from age 3 months and up.
Blondie Boy's nose was running non-stop so he wasn't too congested, but he did have a chesty cough so we decided to give the Karvol Vaporiser a try. The smell was a bit too piney for my taste but it did seem to help Blondie Boy sleep through the night. We plugged in the Karvol Vaporiser behind his changing table and out of his reach, but it does lock so you don't have to worry about little ones pulling it apart if they do get a hold of it.
Since Blondie Boy can't exactly tell me if he noticed a difference in how he slept all I can say is that it certainly didn't hurt and he didn't wake up when we had it plugged in. The Karvol Vaporiser is available in stores and online for RRP £6.59.

Friday 14 January 2011

Infertility is Universal

Sandy from how beautiful are the feet and her husband are currently working in Namibia in Africa as teachers at a school for AIDS orphans. Sandy's story is of Watjantja a woman she first met almost ten years ago in remote Namibia, but it's also the story of millions of women around the world as infertility affects roughly 1 in 7 women worldwide. As expats we often talk about what is different from home, but some things, unfortunately, are universal.

I usually write about life in Namibia and what is going on in the lives of the students that my husband and I work with. Not many people know about our struggle to get pregnant, and it is not something I have discussed on my blog. When Blondie presented the opportunity to write a guest spot for her I thought it would be a great way to share some of the things I have noticed in dealing with IF in a foreign country.

In 2002, when I lived in Namibia, I met a lady who could not have children. Her name is Watjantja, she lives in Swartbooisdrif, one of the most remote villages in Namibia. There are no medical doctors there; in fact, there are no fertility specialists in the entire country of Namibia. In the Himba culture (recently showed in the movie “Babies”) children are life. Without children you are doomed to be forgotten. Her husband did what almost any Himba husband in that situation would do, he took a second wife who bore him many children without any problem. At the time I was sad for her, but I could never grasp the full force of the devastation behind her expression as she told us all of this.

Fast forward to 2009, my husband and I are about to finish college and we are finally ready to begin our family. I remember that day like it was yesterday, we sat in a restaurant and decided that it was finally time to start trying. The absolute possibilities of what that decision meant for our future made both of us cry. Now here I sit at the beginning of 2011, it has been almost two years and we are no closer to having our family than we were that day in the restaurant. In the last two years I have had several diagnoses thrown at me from doctors thousands of miles apart. (Including PCOS, Endometriosis and Anovulation “here have some Clomid!!!”) Who knew that trying to have a baby included so many needles and an absolute stripping down of one’s dignity?

In 2010 we returned to Swartbooisdrif, Watjantja’s village. She was still there, as barren as ever. When she saw me her eyes lit up, then she looked down at my arms searching for a child. When our eyes met again she read me like a book, her expression said : “You are like me aren’t you?” In an instant she recognized the pain, the emptiness, the hopelessness, and the loneliness in my eyes and in my empty arms. Watjantja can speak no English and through a translator she said “Don’t be like me!” To this day it is one of the hardest and most comforting things I have experienced on this road of infertility.

The one lesson I have learned in dealing with IF and travelling across the world is that women of every culture language color and economic standing share the same feeling of emptiness and heartache when it comes to IF. Anywhere on earth you will be able to find someone who has been touched by this relentless pain and someone who , without having to say anything, can understand the hurt that you are feeling.

Tuesday 11 January 2011

...and the winner is

The winner never got in touch so I've drawn a new winner: Brandy!

Please be in touch within 48 hours with your contact information or another winner will be drawn.If you didn't win remember that all Transatlantic Blonde readers get 10% off The Threaded Needle with the code "Transatlantic!"

Friday 7 January 2011

Liane, The Lifer

My second guest poster Liane from Movement, like me, is an American expat in the UK and we both moved 6 1/2 years ago. The American expat community can be a transient one and I know the majority of American women I've met have since moved back to America. Personally I don't want to say I'm here forever, it's too permanent for me, but Liane is a lifer.

Hi. My name is Liane and I’m an expat from the States. I’m not just an expat…I’m a lifer.

I arrived the summer of 2004. One of the hottest summers on record for London. And ya know what? They don’t have air conditioning there, nor do they even have air conditioners as we know them. You know what I mean, the ones you put in a window. Even though I didn’t have central air in Boston, I still had air conditioning in my bedroom. What the heck had I gotten myself into? But, yeah, it was 6-1/2 years ago, so clearly a few things went well.

I had moved over for a job working in an international school. I was excited to be overseas as many of my relatives, including my parents, had done a stint. Here I was, 35 years old, single (to my mom’s regret), owning no property (to my regret) and so it was perfect timing. I had a two year visa and job contract, with the ability to leave after one year if I so chose. Well, after discovering that I loved my job, loved London and came to love a guy who was from London, I decided to stay, and now I’m here for what may be life in my own home with husband and dog.

Being a long-timer is interesting. Working in an international school and living in such a transitional city such as London means that I meet a lot of people who then leave a year or a few later. The thing about being a long-timer is that the short-timers see their time here in London differently than I do. It’s almost a long visit in a way. They have to go travel everywhere and do everything RIGHT NOW. They may never actually get to know London or any true Londoners, because they spend any time here with other Americans and living in big expat areas. Not a bad thing, mind you, but a different life to that of a lifer.

As a lifer, you may chose to live a bit further out from central London because you can buy a bigger property. The potential of having children there means you want to find a place with a decent neighbourhood, parks, and more interior and exterior space.

As a short-timer, you may want to live in the thick of it or the ‘nicer’ areas where other expats live (close to that big American style store).

As a lifer, you focus on the long-term. You don’t have to get it all done immediately and so you may not travel as much as you originally had A short-timer doesn’t necessarily worry about saving their pounds because travel may more important to them. Sometimes I’m very, very jealous that they see so many places; many more than I have in my 6-1/2 years here.

A short-timer may not get to know so many locals. It’s not entirely their fault. They may only get to socialize with a lot of Americans. It is easier to do that cause we understand each other’s stories. We get that peanut butter and chocolate is really a wonderful thing. We don’t blink when they spend £5 on a bag of marshmallows from the States (they kinda suck here). They know our school system, our government, etc, etc. And it’s tough getting to know the locals. They have their own friends a lot of times or, if not, there are people around who may understand THEIR story, education, life in ways that we might not. It takes effort and time to get to know a local, something that a short-timer just may not have or want to spend.

So is it easier to be a long-timer or lifer? Not always. You may begin to lose your friends from the States, one by one. They may not come to visit and or they may move away from your hometown and so you don’t see them. It takes a lot of work to maintain your friendships and it takes two. Even worse is that you aren’t nearby when things go wrong in your family, such as a grandparent dying or a parent falling ill. You miss out on the good things too, including your nephew’s birthday party and the family gathering for the 4th of July.

Being a lifer means you get to know another culture intimately. You are no longer just an American, but something else. You may end up with two or more citizenships. And you have experiences that change you to the very core. It’s not a life for everyone. But it’s something that I treasure. I love my life here in London. And I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Thanks for letting me visit and write a bit of my story. If you want to learn more about me and my thoughts, feel free to visit me at my blog:

Tuesday 4 January 2011

Be my Guest, Be my Guest

Today I started a new job, tomorrow my Mom flys in from LA and it is Blondie Boy's first birthday! Needless to say things are going to be a bit crazy for the next week or so! To help keep my blog warm I'm going to have several lovely guest bloggers posting. If you'd like to submit a guest post please get in touch!

My first guest post is from the first friend I made when I moved to Scotland, Julie from Me, Him & Them.

She's married to one of NotBlondeHusband's friends (who was there when NBH and I met) and very kindly brightened my blonde with her hairdressing skills! Julie is Mom to beautiful teenage girl and a handsome wee two year old boy and lives on the west coast of Scotland, but once upon a time she was Chunnel Chick!


When I agreed to do a guest post for the lovely Transatlantic Blonde I struggled a bit to decide what to write about. Usually I blog about my kids and my general family life. She suggested something a bit different from my usual and so I thought what better than to talk about my past life.......... before motherhood.

For those of you who don't know me personally, pre children I was a bit of a mad impulsive mover. I had numerous different houses/flats and was always up for a change. I left home at 16 and moved into a flat with a friend and went to University. Studying really wasn't for me but I finished my first two years and then went and worked in a friends bar until I decided what I wanted to do. During that time I did a bit of babysitting for some of my parents friends with young kids for extra cash. It was through one of these couples that I met a family who had a daughter in Paris who was looking for a nanny. She had just had a baby boy who was 3 weeks old and her French Husband worked between Paris and London and she wanted some fairly part time help with reasonable pay, free accommodation and obviously no bills. I met the couple once when they came to visit but spent some time with her parents with them obviously vetting me and my family/background. After 3 weeks I decided to take the job on a trial of a month and then reassess. So off I went.

I'd never flown before alone and am a very nervous flyer at the best of times but the excitement of doing something so spur of the moment took over and I managed without creating mass panic on the plane (which isn't unheard of from me).

It was hot July in Paris when I landed at Charles de Gaulle and grabbed a taxi at the airport by myself clutching a piece of paper with the address of the couples apartment. First impressions???? 'ARE YOU ALL NUTS?' These people had no highway code and drove like mad loonies. I was terrified and most relieved when I arrived at the address in one piece. It was slap bang across the road from the Eiffel Tower and I was a happy happy bunny.

The apartment was fabulous and I settled in with a very friendly couple very easily. I loved the whole place and the people.

I only helped out with the baby a few half days a week and the rest of the time wandered around sight seeing. I adored everything about the place, but as I speak absolutely no French whatsoever it made for some interesting shopping trips there. My favourite place to shop was Gallery Lafayette and generally I spent most of my free cash there on cute clothes and presents to send back home to my parents. I was in my element there and adored the hustle and bustle of it and people watching the stylish Parisians.

I did a lot of exploring and loved taking a book and finding a lovely park to lie under a tree reading. My absolutely most memorable trip in those first few weeks though was going to visit the grave yard where Jim Morrison from 'The Doors' is buried. I had been a huge fan for years and even did my Higher English book report on the book 'No One Here Gets Out Alive'. So being in Paris and able to go to one of the graveside vigils was amazing.

People go in their dozens with guitars and candles and pay their respects. Its was popular the Police guarded the graveside to protect it. I took loads of photos but as that was back in the pre digital camera days I don't have them scanned.

After the month I decided to stay on with the couple and worked for the best part of a year with them between Paris and London. Eventually I left them as childcare wasn't in my long term plans (needless to say a year later I was a mum so that was bad planning), but I adore Paris and dearly hope to go back one day.

I'll always have Paris.

Sunday 2 January 2011

A Leash is not just a leash

You might have notice a hot pink and white polka dot ribbon in a lot of our photos from Germany. It is actually Sophie Leash by The Threaded Needle.

The leash is meant to keep everyone's favorite chewy giraffe from getting thrown/tossed out and lost, but we also used it with Blondie Boy's puppy, snack cup and most of all his pipka. It was great not having to worry that he'd chucked something out of the stroller and we'd lost it.

The Threaded Needle makes Sophie Leashes in lots of fun colours and also has lots of other cute products like iPad/Kindle Covers and cute chunky bead necklaces.

All Transatlantic Blonde readers can get 10% off at The Threaded Needle by using the code "Transatlantic" and one lucky reader will win a Sophie Leash of their very own in the colour of their choice!

To enter the giveaway:

Follow my Blog publicly (link on right sidebar) using Google Friend Connect and comment with your favorite item from the Threaded Needle Etsy Store.

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This giveaway is open to all readers worldwide. A winner will be drawn at random on January 10th at 12:00 GMT. Winners must contact me within 48 hours or another winner will be drawn.

Transatlantic Blonde was provided this product for review.