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From London to Baltimore: Mommy Has A Headache

14 November, 2011 09:04  Erin Erin

mommy has a headache emmaHi my name is Emma K (Kaufmann). I was spawned in London, UK but after meeting my Ideal Frog I hopped the pond 11 years ago. I now live in Baltimore, USA and have spawned two lady frogettes.

1. Why did you move abroad?

Well it was all a bit sudden to tell you the truth. I was dating a guy who lived in Ireland and he was starting grad school in Baltimore and asked me if I wanted to come along. Honestly at the time I had no idea where Baltimore was. All I knew was that its citizens were swathed in luxury materials or so I thought after hearing that Joan Baez song: ‘The Lady Came From Baltimore, All She Wore Was Lace.’ Well it sounded quite fancy although when I got here no one was done up in nothing but lace curtains, alas (Stella McCartney are you listening this could be the next big trend)!

2. How do you make a living?
Well my hands are tied on this one! Yes – believe it or not - I do not have any legal right to work in the USA although the green card process is almost finished and I should be a recipient of one soon!! I can’t say I have been bored though. I had my hands full with my two daughters for the first few years and then, once they started school I put pen to paper and poured all the gory details of my parenting experiences of drool, boogers, barf and multicolored poo into the hilarious book Cocktails at Naptime – A Woefully Inadequate Guide to Early Motherhood. Take a peek at it here www.cocktailsatnaptime.blogspot.com
 
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
I am very unusual among expats in that I am hardly in contact with anyone in my homeland of England. That is partly because I am a lazy git and partly because keeping in touch is hard work with the time difference etc. Also I am something of a phone-phobic and don’t much like hanging on the blower. Also I don’t have much family left in the UK. I suppose I have just concentrated on making new friends in the US. My other excuse is that I don’t have much time to Skype (apart from the fact that I have never actually Skyped and am something of a technophobe)! I prefer talking to people face to face .... and I know that makes me practically stone age.

4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in Baltimore?
Well the weather is pretty fantastic. In the summer you can loll by the pool for at least three months of scorching weather. The fall has many red leaves and many evenings roasting marshmallows over a fire pit. The winter has tons of snow and you can laugh at people trying to drive in deep snow and getting stuck when really they should have stayed home!

Also the property prices are very cheap compared to the UK which makes it a great place to raise a family.

5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Baltimore?
I can’t think of anything off the top of my head except for maybe American Football (why?) – there’s only one point to football as far as I’m concerned and that’s ogling soccer players legs. With your American Football there don’t seem to be any hotties or if they are they are wearing those big helmets so you can’t tell. American Football is not much fun for the ladies is all I’m saying.

6. What do you miss most?
The thing about living abroad is the longer I live here the less I miss about the UK. That said, of course I miss the sense of humour. There is nothing like the scathing British sense of wit. But as for UK comedy TV – you can watch most of my favorite comedy shows including Pulling, Peep Show, Green Wing etc. on hulu.com

Then there’s the food issue. While I certainly miss a good fish and chips I have learnt to live without it. There is also a UK shelf at the local supermarket where I can buy all manner of processed English goods including Branston Pickle and Hob Nobs so I’m fine there too.

I would say certainly I miss the pub culture, having a bit of a laugh over a few pints on a Sunday at the pub while eating a large roast beef dinner. But I am quite pleased in a way that most people don’t drink very much (in the sense that I have so far avoided growing a beer gut) although it is puzzling when someone invites you to a pub for a drink here and after LITERALLY one drink everyone goes home.

I missed Cadbury’s Dairy Milk bars for a while but they were hard to find. You will be glad I have since adapted to US chocolate. My fridge is full of the stuff.
 
7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
Well having a baby was a god send because a few months after birthing my first daughter I was stalking playgrounds looking for new friends. I am friendly and will talk to anyone including a lamp post so was soon enmeshed in the merry world of mommy friends and playdates which ended after five years when they all went back to work – the kill joys. Then I was forced to start a blog to chat with people online.  Actually I do quite a lot of voluntary work and have met lots of people that way too.

8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
The obsession with straight teeth was strange at first and it was wierd to see many seven year olds in braces. But I recently had to grab the bull by the horns because my eight year old is now in braces! My husband who has very crooked teeth was told by his dentist here quite seriously that his crooked teeth meant he would ‘never have a career in television’ and that to set them straight would require breaking his jaw and a $30,000 cost. People take straight teeth very seriously indeed. Not to mention that my husband is an electrical engineer and has never harbored any ambitions to be on TV!

9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
That Americans are thick as two short planks. Of course there are some stupid ones but no more than in the UK.

10. What advice would you give other expats?
To just get into the lifestyle of your adopted country. There is no point pining for home all the time. If you really miss home after a few years you are best going back.

11. When and why did you start your blog?
I started www.mommyhasaheadache.blogspot.com in 2006 when I had two little kids and was going a bit mad. I felt like an udder on legs, barely human, and I wanted to carve out a little niche for self expression. It’s been fun.  

12.  How has the blog been beneficial?emma Cocktails_at_Naptime
I have met quite a few lovely people through my blog including Gillian www.misssymartin.blogspot.com a Scots lass, with whom I penned my book. And having the blog helped with getting the book Cocktails at Naptime published in Australia. An ebook version of the book is out soon so everyone can read it, but we are still looking for a UK publisher so if you’re interested get in touch emmakcontact [at] yahoo.com.

I have met many writers via the blog and it is fun to keep up with them and see them published. As for my next book, I keep thinking about new ideas for books like Crone-ology – A guide to feeling great over 40...can you tell I’ve reached that dreaded period in life where wrinkles are starting to emerge and I’m wondering whether to laugh or cry. Well watch this space!

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Emma's blog, Mommy Has A Headache

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