Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Suite Surprise!

I've said it before and I'll say it again - diplo-husband can be the best husband! And he's very good at surprises.  We went away this weekend for our last Austrian getaway (and if you haven't yet picked up on this, the next two weeks will be dedicated to many "lasts" with our departure looming less than two weeks from now!).  With so much going on, we wanted to take a breather this Memorial Day weekend and head to the place that means the most to us, so we headed to our beloved Salzburg and Berchtesgaden.

At our hotel, DH checked us in while I was milling around the lobby not paying much attention and off we went.  I noticed that we were headed to the 3rd floor while normally we stay on the first, and low and behold we stopped in front of one of the suites.  I've been dying to see what these were like ever since the beginning and given that they are two levels tall, and stretch across both sides, I was always imagining what the view would be like.  And now I can confirm - the view is definitely as good as you think it's going to be.  It's even better.

And wait - there's more! Not one...not one but TWO surprises in orange boxes with brown ribbons - the best kind of box there is! A beautiful sunhat for lounging around by the pool, and since this is shaping up to be the summer of the one-piece, at least I'll be chic at the top! And a gorgeous baby blue scarf to commemorate our last trip to our favorite place and the blue skies that surrounded us.

Diplo-husband, you're the best!

Vote, vote, vote today!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

An alpine coif...

And to go with the Freizeit mode, how about a little freizeit hairdo courtesy of The Beauty Department.  I'll be attempting to sport this at least once this weekend.  Also I might consider changing my name to Leisl temporarily.  Or Yulia Timoshenko.  But that sounds decidedly less alpine.

Two braids, but one vote - don't forget to cast yours today!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Crying over spilt milk...

It's not too often that I get up on a mommy platform.  But my departure from Heathrow was nearly enough to turn me into a crusader for life.  And I wasn't going to say anything except for change doesn't come from letting things slide.

I think that there are lots of ways to feed your child, and while I happen to have an opinion on what works best for me and why, I totally get that different combinations work for different moms for different reasons.  And I think one of the luxuries of modern times is being able to choose the right way for you, and having people respect that within reasonable realms.

One of the other luxuries of modern times is being able to pump - in my case, first it was because feeding wasn't working any other way.  And now it's because I work.  Now, as well all know, liquids are a no-no for plane rides, apart from a sample shampoo and your toothpaste neatly packaged in a small ziploc.  But there has always been an exception for medications and baby food, including milk.  For those traveling in the US, the guidance from TSA has been:
Medications, baby formula and food, breast milk, and juice are allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding 3.4 ounces (100ml) and are not required to be in the zip-top bag. Officers. may ask travelers to open these items to conduct additional screening and passengers should declare them for inspection at the checkpoint.

For the UK, it reads per the Heathrow Airport website:
Baby food or baby milk: Please carry only what you need for the flight. You may be asked to open the containers and taste the contents.
And you're going to be blown away by what happens next.  Wanting to be a good traveler, I approach security, "declaring" my milk stash and showing the officers.  I had it packaged in freezer bags of 150 mL, and all separated out in a cooler container.  Naturally a container full of breast milk caused a bit of a stir and lots of nastiness ensued, with two gentlemen officials refusing to let me pass.  Here's how it went down.

Tack #1: "You can't have liquids over 100 mL".  I explain this is baby milk and it doesn't apply - nonetheless, I offer to repackage it into quantities of 100 mL in additional bags and I'm told I'm not allowed.

Tack #2: "You're not allowed to travel with breast milk if you don't actually have a baby with you."  Also false - it doesn't specify that in any of the rules.  Also the whole point of me traveling with milk is that I've been away and I have to bring it back.  They don't understand what I'm saying.

Tack #3: "What is pumping? What do you mean when you say this is from pumping?" So I explain the basic principles of what "pumping" is.  Keep in mind that this is in full on public view of the airport.  Luckily once you're a mom, you cease to be squeamish about this stuff.  However, if you're an airport security male worker, you are squeamish.

Tack #4: "You're not allowed to travel with breast milk unless you have a note from the doctor explaining why your child can only drink breast milk." What? Now I definitely know they're making stuff up.  I ask to see the rules and am refused.  I ask how I can possibly know what rules they're applying.  They say I can look them up at home on the web (which I have and have posted above for your convenience).  I ask to speak to a manager.  Again denied.  They're full speed ahead on a power trip now.

Tack #5: "If you really cared that much about feeding your baby, then you would just go to the pharmacist and buy some formula".  WHAT???? Cue smoke coming out of my ears.  I ask if he just told me how I should feed my child and he says "Well I'm advising you because you don't seem to know your options.  You don't have to use that when you could just buy it so why would you travel with it?  This is not a necessity so you can't have it."

And with that, all the milk was taken away.  I didn't let them see me, but this was some spilt milk that I felt justified in crying over.

But on a brighter note, don't forget to cast your votes - and if you think this whole Heathrow is as crazy as I do, spread the word.  I'll keep everyone posted on how complaining through official channels goes!

Updated: September 14, 2011
Please note that there have been lots of updates as a result of this posting - to all of those that commented and sent in notes of support, thank you! And know that your efforts not only meant a lot to me, but helped to move the needle in terms of making a difference in the way that Heathrow Airport approaches the needs of moms and families.  We've still a ways to go, but the Airport has been serious about their apology and about their effort.  For the full series of posts on this topic, please see: 

Crying over Spilt Milk, update
Crying over Spilt Milk - The Response Part I
Crying over Spilt Milk - The Response Part II

A little less crying over spilt milk - Heathrow Steps Up...

top image via KidHaven.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Diplo-Style: London Calling!

London Calling

Just returned from two days in my London office for a whirlwhind tour of clients and meetings before hitting the other side fo the pond.  Here's a pretty close approximation of what was in my bag - black staples as always, with an increasing number of pink accessories to lighten things up. I think that's a directly correlated to having a baby girl.  What can I say? I've gone soft.

My packing job includes my no-fail black sheath, though the one I actually have is from JCrew - but I would take this one from Barney's in a heartbeat.  However there are definitely more reasonably priced options out there - same for statement necklace.   I'm also liking these days the black suit with slightly shorter/capri pants combo, and adding a touch of Hermes scarf as a cumberbund to distract from the post-DB souvenir belly.

PS - Clearly I'm no polyvore pro - I can't seem to get rid of those top and bottom margins.  Sigh - I'll put perfecting those technical skills on the to-do list.

PPS - Don't forget to cast your votes for Top 25 Expat Blog!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A bear called Paddington...

My first trip away from diplo-baby also means the first gift that Mom will bring back to help smooth over being away.  And given that I was in London, was there any other candidate for this gift than Paddington Bear? Bought at Paddington Station no less. 

Paddington Bear always had a special place in my heart growing up - maybe because my mom always read it to me with all the accents.  Maybe because being from Peru but in a London train station a little worse for the wear, Paddinton always had an element of outsider about him.  Or maybe becuase he was always trying so hard to get things right but inevitably bungling something along the way.  You see all of these elements of character in any childhood hero in a different light as an adult, and also as a parent.  But Paddington still has a special place in my heart and I'll be looking forward to rediscovering his tales - as well as those of so many other books we grew to love as children - through the lens of someone who sees them for the first time.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

At home in London...

I'm taking off in the wee hours for a two day work trip to London - but I'm always inspired how London homes (at least those featured in magazines) always seem to have such a nice mix of traditional and modern, incorporating cheery elements without being too serious.  It might not always be 100% my style but I always seem to walk away with an idea or two.  And as magazines are my guilty pleasure, I always stock up on British editions of home magazines for my train and plane ride back.

The below are from a feature last year in Elle Decor from Christine D'Ornano's townhome in London - she heads up Sisley cosmetics so gorgoeous house AND gorgeous face. 

All photos by Simon Upton for Elle Decor.

Sunday Shots: Is this seat taken?

Photography by The New Diplomat's Wife.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Diplo-baby style: summer looks

Time to get cracking on that summer look book of mine - sigh, we're not quite where I'd like to be from a post-baby recovery perspective.  Just those last few steps that make the difference between making me look forward to a new swimsuit or dread it.

So I've focused my efforts on diplo-baby instead.  We're reaching the point where she needs to break out of the layette routine a little bit - though most days at home, it's still onesies and footed pants around here.  But diplo-baby has a growing social calendar full out of outings that require a bit more than showing up in her pyjamas and with the summer heat approaching, I took advantage of Elephantito's sale on Gilt for some classic girly-girl looks.  I'm not going to lie, having a small daughter is a bit like having a moving, complicated doll that you can dress and re-dress multiple times a day.  In diplo-baby's case, it has a little something to do with "explosions" so I'm hoping these little numbers stand well to multiple washings.  In any case, they'll be darling... if only for five minutes.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

At the saw mill...

We had an amazing weekend with real Austrian friends at their country estate this past weekend, giving us a glimpse into some real Austrian living.  A full write up and review to come tomorrow, but while we were on the property we came across this cool saw mill that was there from the time of commercial lumber in the area.  It still has many of the original machines, most in perfect working condition and there's a sense of just not being able to find things like this quite so much anymore.  Here are a few shots from around the old saw mill...

Photography by The New Diplomat's Wife.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Austria-isms: Eurovision 2011

To be fair, this shouldn't really be an "Austria-ism" but rather a "Europe-ism".  Eurovision is this rather perplexing pop song contest conducted every year and hosted by a European country.  It really brings out some of the less fine elements of European living but is addictive in its own way, since each successive song is a bigger train wreck than the previous one.

The favorite going into this year was the Irish duo Jedward with their (despite being native English speakers) incomprehensible song "Lipstick"...

Not their best work - though the number that they did with Vanilla Ice last year I thought had a nice catchy tone to it. I just cracked up when someone in the YouTube comments mentioned that these gentlemen looked like toothbrushes. Even funnier is that Vanilla Ice apparently invested wisely over the years, despite making a few social mistakes, and now has his own home renovation show - "all right, stop! renovate and listen!".

Alas, it was not to be for Jedward - Azederbajian swooped in for the win. As usual, "no one is really sure what they're saying", as diplo-husband said of this ditty. That's the beauty of non-native english speakers amateur musicians writing their own music in english.  And probably doing their own lighting effects. Last year there was the forgettable "I love you like a satellite" song by the bopping around the stage like a satellite unknown Lena, who as far as I can tell, has gone back to being unknown. This year, it's "I'm running, I'm scared tonight" despite the fact that song is called "Running Scared". Somehow the double I'ms didn't make it into the title.

But my all time favorite was the winner two years ago. A young violinist of Russian descent singing for Norway about princesses and fairytales (which with its notes of nostalgia, folky fiddling, kossak-style dancers, lyrics of love, fighting, curses and hurt (repeat cycle) was I'm sure in no way pandering to the host city of Moscow and typical Russian dramatics). It was really his sheer joy at winning that made it such a crack-up to watch, and kind of made me want to be a princess in a fairytale too.

For more eurovision goodness, check out the following Slate article here.

Friday, May 13, 2011

She's got legs...

There's a shop across the street from us that has some very sleek antiques - turn of the century and at not so modest prices.  We've been living here for nearly two and a half years and from what I can tell, they've never sold anything.  This could be because I've never actually seen a sales person in there - or frankly, a door for that matter.  And in keeping with other mid to high range establishments of Vienna, selling things does not seem to be a priority.  Only displaying inaccessible things.

However a few weeks ago, we did notice that while there are still no outgoing pieces, a new incoming specimen did appear in the window.  I'm half hoping that several years down the road, when we come back for a visit, that these gambs will still be here to greet us.

Photography by The New Diplomat's Wife.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

A touch of color...

Very excited to share a touch of color from This Gringo Honeymoon.  Some of you might recall her as the unimitable Ms. Lujo, however she's undergone a bit of a change to account for her very exciting move to Mexico, DF, where's she's carrying on in the spirit of diplo-traditions.

A while back, we featured her advice on dressing for work, written for a friend looking for a post-law school refresh (and frankly, which I should re-read myself - after two and a half years of working remotely, it will be time to head back to the office in a respectable manner).  That same friend is back for advice on incorporating color and here's her take.  A little Hermes, a little Kate Spade, a little Kenneth Jay Lane - all diplo-favorites, combined with a few new affordable pieces.

All this color is making me look forward to summer already!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Diplo-man of Style: Jim Nelson

I have a little crush on Jim Nelson, editor at GQ.  The best section of any magazine is the Editor's letter, and his is always one of my favorites, even if I think he makes some outlandish correlations from time to time, and has some kind of weird obsession with the Tea Party (but to me, everyone living in the US has a weird obsession with the Tea Party - don't people realize that outside of the US, nobody knows what's going on with all of that?).  He has a very endearing look of an underfed writer, but is tailored enough to take himself out of the starving artist category, and has a vocabulary to die for.  Also, clearly he has a good skin care regime as it doesn't betray his age at all.

Also, if you haven't yet seen it, GQ's Lonely Planet Guide for Deposed Dictators? Brilliant.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sunday Shots: Happy Mother's Day!

Inside and out...what a difference a year makes.

Photography by The New Diplomat's Wife's Husband.
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