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A Blonde in Beijing Becomes…

28 Jan

A Blonde in Beijing becomes…

Blonde with a Baby!

blonde with a baby

I hope you will follow me on this new journey – full of blonde motherly moments, fashion advice for the spit-up savvy, fun tips on traveling with a tot, and must-have product reviews.

Follow Blonde with a Baby!

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Great Bump Pics from The Great Wall

25 Jan
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Morgan and Brett Hutchinson

From the day we found out we were expecting little Olive Bee, we joked about how one day she would reach an age when telling people that she was born in Beijing, China would seem like bragging rights. Well…since we stripped her of that joy – we thought the least we could do was take photos of her in utero on The Great Wall of China. A big thank you to photographer Diego Ferrini and to make-up artist Meili Autumn.

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Brett and Morgan Hutchinson

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Morgan and Brett Hutchinson
Photography by Diego Ferrini. Make-up by Meili Autumn.

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Please stayed tuned for A Blonde in Beijing’s big blog move….coming soon!

All images courtesy of Diego Ferrini.

Bye-Bye Beijing

24 Jan

I am very aware that my last post has left me in a frozen state of 29 weeks of pregnancy – and well, that is obviously not my reality.  I am happy to announce that we have a beautiful and healthy baby girl (but more about that later).  For now, I would like to focus on why I was not around to finish my “Bump in Beijing” posts…or any other posts for that matter.  You see – the very day after I posted the Bump in Beijing Weeks 25-29, my darling husband came home after work with big news.  He announced that the company had sold, and we now had to make a decision…stay in Beijing or head to the mother land.

Honestly, it was a no brainer.  While we loved our time in China’s capital city – it was time to move back, be closer to family, and share our bundle of joy with her grandmothers!  (Not to mention saving her precious little lungs from Beijing’s off-the-charts pollution.)  The preparations began immediately.  Movers were hired and goodbye parties were planned.  We were on a very strict 3-week time table before I would be on the NO-FLY list – so we couldn’t waste a single second.

Very grateful for the adrenaline rush created by the thought of an international move at 32-weeks preggers, my energy level soared to new heights, and I was able to cram in lunches, dinners, and shopping excursions with all of my favorite ladies.  I finalized projects and Brett and I checked off some “Beijing must-sees” that had been overlooked during our 3 1/2 year stay.  We even squeezed in one more visit from my parents.  It was a jam packed 3-weeks – to say the least, but we survived!

A couple of days before the movers came to pack us up, I took several photos of our apartment.  I realized that I had never posted images of it before.  I will always think back with fond memories of this apartment…the first place Brett and I lived together, the countless dinners, the get-togethers with friends, the 3 Thanksgivings and Christmases, the many Saturday mornings we woke at dawn to watch Alabama football and drink pink champagne, and finally the place where our sweet baby Olive was made.

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Our apartment, Dong Dai MOMA – a collection of seven towers linked together by skyways and centered around ponds, outdoor cafes, and an artsy movie theater (inside the gray structure).  This view is from our apartment.

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VIew from the ground

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One of our little “duckie” friends!

Inside our living room.  I had the "Ni Hao" artwork made here at a local sign shop.  One of my favorite creations.  My version of a welcome sign…it means, "HELLO!"

Inside our living room. I had the “Ni Hao” artwork made here at a local sign shop. One of my favorite creations. My version of a welcome sign…it means, “HELLO!”

The Living Room

The Living Room

Chinese dragon - these things are a dime a dozen over there.  Always amazing to see what they sell for in the States.

A Chinese dragon – these things are a dime a dozen over in Beijing. Always amazing to see what they sell for in the States.

custom china place setting

Custom china we had made in honor of our little Olive “Bee” Hutchinson.

Feathered Headdress purchased on our honeymoon in South Africa.

Feathered Headdress purchased on our honeymoon in South Africa.

Vintage Gucci and Pucci scarves made into throw pillows.  Precious Chinese baby face art in the background.

Vintage Gucci and Pucci scarves made into throw pillows. Precious Chinese baby face art in the background.

Entry Way/Bar Area

Entry Way & Small Bar Area

The Study

The Study

Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom and inspiration for A Blonde in Beijing artwork.

Master Bedroom and inspiration for A Blonde in Beijing artwork.

Kitchen

Kitchen

Guest Bath

Guest Bath

Guest Bedroom (i.e. Morgan's closet).  Complete with Barbie American Flag.  Why use stars when you can use Barbie Heads?

Guest Bedroom (i.e. Morgan’s closet). Complete with Barbie American Flag. Why use stars when you can use Barbie Heads?

Carnage from the Barbie American Flag...

Carnage from the Barbie American Flag…

Our last week was packed with activities…we squeezed in one last trip to the Great Wall, finally visited the Summer Palace, and had a “yard sale”.

With Mom and Joe on the Great Wall.  My last visit to this wonder of the world.

With Mom and Joe on the Great Wall. My last visit to this wonder of the world.

With mom on the Great Wall

With mom on the Great Wall

We finally made it to the Summer Palace.  Probably would have enjoyed it more when I wasn't almost 8 months pregnant.  LOTS of hills!

We finally made it to the Summer Palace. Probably would have enjoyed it more when I wasn’t almost 8-months pregnant. LOTS of hills!

Lotus flowers are the Summer Palace.

Lotus flowers at the Summer Palace.

With Mom and Joe at the Summer Palace

With Mom and Joe at the Summer Palace

All the last minute sight seeing and visiting with friends was great – but honestly, the highlight of our last week was hosting a Chinese style yard sale.  After cleaning out and organizing the apartment so the movers could come to pack everything, we needed a fast way to get rid of all the junk we had accumulated.  For months we had been fighting the traffic outside our building due to a make shift Saturday morning market that brought the locals out in droves.  Now it was our turn to get in on the action.  I had to do some convincing to get Brett on board.  He feared that we (okay he) would have to haul whatever items didn’t sell back up to the apartment.  So naturally  – his idea was to just trash everything.  I, on the other hand, was confident in my understanding of the local Chinese.  If we were selling Western goods (and I don’t mean cowboy boots) – they were buying.  My hunch proved to be more than right.  We couldn’t even make it to the sidewalk before a swarm of 75+ Chinese people started pawing and grabbing everything in our hands.  It was mayhem…bedlam…anarchy – I honestly don’t know how to put it into words (nor does the thesaurus).  And sadly, it happened so fast that my pictures do not even do it justice.  FYI – Beijing might be the only place in the world where you can practically get dollar for dollar (or RMB for RMB) back for the crap you bought at Ikea.

Amazingly - Brett is somewhere in the middle of this crowd

Amazingly – Brett is somewhere in the middle of this crowd

The carnage.  Apparently, pink Easter grass and Easter eggs are lost on the Chinesel.

The carnage. Apparently, pink Easter grass and Easter eggs are lost on the Chinese.

As well as Santa Advent Calendars….

And so are Santa Advent Calendars….

Our bounty!

Our bounty!

After a busy week of goodbyes, it was finally time to head to the Beijing International Airport one last time.  Somehow – although we came to Beijing with only 5 suitcases each, it took a shuttle bus to take us in order to hold all of our bags (not to mention the 76 boxes on the way to America via slow boat).

van with luggage

And just like that, after 3 1/2 wonderful years – full of once in a lifetime experiences, we said, “Bye Bye Beijing.”

Please stayed tuned for A Blonde in Beijing’s big blog move…coming soon!

A Bump in Beijing: Weeks 26-29

23 Aug

With less than 11 weeks to go until our little bun-in-the-oven makes her debut, her current home (my bump) is certainly making room for her growing baby body.

Barbie Baby Shower in Beijing

7 Aug

It is no secret to those who know me that I am a lover of all things Barbie.  So when my dear friends here in Beijing decided to throw us a baby shower – the theme was apparently a “Barbie Doll Brainer”…i.e. a no brainer.  Not to suggest that creators behind the famous doll do not have brains…it is just that if you literally squeeze the doll’s head, it is hollow – there is no plastic brain.  Perhaps something Mattel should think about adding…

While my Ken doll, Brett, was in the know, the shower was a total surprise to me!  What a fun treat to find all of my Beijing beauties dressed in their “Barbie Best” to celebrate the upcoming arrival of Baby Olive Bee.  And while the actual brunch baby shower was a surprise, I was not surprised at all to find that these special ladies had covered every detail – including a preggers Barbie centerpiece!  I will now let the pictures do the talking…

The brunch menu – complete with my face super-imposed on the Original Barbie. Each place setting came with its own pair of shoes and matching handbag…Barbie size of course!

Playing with the pregnant Barbie. She and I really bonded that day as we were the only guests not partaking in the free-flow of pink champagne!

Preggers Barbie Centerpiece

How cute are these custom Barbie cupcakes??

More of the cutest cupcakes… by Lollipop Bakery in Beijing

Brett and I with KC Connolly – i.e. Ghetto Fabulous Barbie!

2 of our Barbie Hostesses with the Mostesses! Neon Barbie Megan Connolly and Lena Abed as Skipper.

The very pink party table sprinkled with Barbie Shoes…

GIFT TIME! The must-have onesie for our future New Yorker.

Thank you ladies for all of the amazing gifts…snuggly blankies, her first Qipao, the cutest teeny tiny socks I have ever seen, and enough clothes for me to change her “look” multiple times a day. Let’s just say…you all know me well!

With our very own petite size Happy Family Set – Ken, Barbie, and Baby!

It is tough to get this many Barbies to focus at the same time… Thank you to our wonderful hostesses!

Outside of MODO, a fabulous choice for the Barbie Brunch Baby Shower, in Sanlitun village.

I would like to say another BIG Barbie THANK YOU to all of our sweet friends who organized this celebration in honor of our little one.  Being pregnant and planning to give birth in China is certainly a unique and sometimes challenging experience, but having the love and support of  such great friends is a true blessing.

Better Late Than Never: Hutchinson Visit

27 Jul
Better Late Than Never, Right?  Here is a very tardy post of our wonderful visit with the Hutchinsons last November.

What a treat it was to be able to spend time with Brett’s parents, his brother Cory, and beautiful Kara here in Beijing.  There are just some things that cannot be expressed through words or photos – which is why we love visitors.  It actually enables us to really show what our life is like in this crazy, polluted, overcrowded…but still pretty fascinating foreign land.

Unfortunately, their visit fell on an extremely busy week for Brett (which I think the majority of you, through deductive reasoning, will be able to tell by the absence of him in the photos below) which left us all missing him and forced the Hutchinsons to see China through the eyes of a Blonde in Beijing.  I am hopeful that a good time was still had by all!

In addition to celebrating Brett’s Big 4-0 at Maison Boulud, we were able to show them quite a few of the sites  – The Olympic Village, The Great Wall, Temple of Heaven, Wangfujing Snack Street, Tea Street, and The Forbidden City.  And of course – we made sure that they tried all the top foods – Beijing Duck, Din Tai Fung dumplings, and don’t forget the street meat.  (Okay – I don’t think Donna actually tried this…but Cory & Kara braved a variety of interesting delicacies – i.e. scorpions, silk worms, etc.)

As their tour guide for the week, I did my best to document the trip for them (a service I only provide for true VIP visitors!)  Here are some of my favorites…

This would be a fantastic Christmas card if Cory was their only son! The Great Wall Mutianyu – November 2011

Tom & Donna Hutchinson. The Great Wall – November 2011

How cute are they? Seriously. The Great Wall – November 2011

Tom with his D-in-L’s. The Great Wall – November 2011

Kara & Cory – The Great Wall.

Perhaps I got a little camera happy with the happy couple….

Up, up, and away! Riding the chair lift to the top of the wall.

Kara cruising down the slide. The best part of visiting the wall at Mutianyu!

Quite possibly my favorite picture of the trip. Clearly, Cory is not pleased with Tom’s choice of speed. His face is the physical definition of boredom.

Tom and Donna in front of The Bird’s Nest. Olympic Village – Beijing.

Brett finally makes it! Family dinner at Mao’s Red Capital Club. This restaurant, hidden in an ancient hutong alleyway, serves tasty food – but the main reason to visit is to step back in time and soak in a bit of “Mao’s China”.

Walking into the gardens surrounding the Temple of Heaven. We were so lucky to have such a beautiful Beijing day. A rarity to say the least.

Donna, Cory & Tom at the Temple of Heaven. Beijing – November 2011

Temple of Heaven – Beijing

I would say I was trying to be artistic…but perhaps Cory is just too tall! I still like it though. Temple of Heaven – Beijing, China.

A tiny Donna at the Temple of Heaven. It is terribly difficult to capture an image with no other tourists. I didn’t crop the original for this very reason. I love the emptiness of it. Temple of Heaven – Beijing, China

The beautiful and extremely old Cypress trees in the grounds that surround the temple. Temple of Heaven – Beijing, China

Tree Gazing. Temple of Heaven Grounds – Beijing, China

Another potentially great Christmas card if Tom and Donna only had one son and also decided to adopt a random blonde from Murray, Kentucky… Temple of Heaven Grounds – Beijing, China

Old school online dating?? We stumbled upon a mass of middle-aged, local Chinese men and women in the gardens surrounding the Temple of Heaven with dozens of papers like these taped to the ground. After chatting with a few of them, who were actually willing to talk with me in Chinese – I was able to learn that they were all there to find mates for their children. These “papers” are actually dating profiles including personal details such as height, age, and occupation. Some even go so far as to say if they are home or car owners. Amazing!

Okay…so this is obviously Cory, not Brett. But for those of you who truly know Brett…you know that this is an impersonation of his “intense face”. Complete with the drumming of the fingers. Nice tribute, Cory.

The Forbidden City – Beijing, China

Kara & Cory – Forbidden City, November 2011

The Forbidden City – Roof Tile Detail.

The Forbidden City – Beijing, China

Tea Tasting on Tea Street. Somehow I didn’t snap a picture when they put Kara to work separating proper tea leaves from the bad ones…what a missed opportunity. I have a feeling that her daily wage might be more than they are used to paying.

This is the coup de gras of photos from the trip. Apparently, my harassing comments to Tom about the fact that of all things to bring to Beijing, he packed his “Turkey Trot 1997” t-shirt hit a nerve. His response to my torment was to jokingly wear it under his sport coat for Brett’s birthday dinner and party at Maison Boulud. Loved it. He did change – although I think I would have preferred him like this.

A Bump in Beijing: Weeks 22-25

25 Jul

We are certainly progressing in the “bump” area!  For those of you who requested new shoes each week…I hope you are not disappointed.  If you commented on the fact that my hair grew bigger in each photo during weeks 18-21…I am sorry but my thin, baby fine hair is pretty much maxed out with the teasing and “Big Sexy” aerosol hairspray.

Only 15 weeks to go until we meet our little Olive!

Check out Weeks 18-21 for a “Bump Comparison”!

 

The Big Reveal

22 Jul

Next to the delicious “duckie” cupcakes at our couples’ shower in Murray to celebrate Baby Hutch. Thank you to our amazing hosts!

As I am sure I have mentioned before – one negative of living 6,800 miles away from family and friends back in the States is not celebrating the “big moments” of life with those who we love most.  So when we had the opportunity to reveal our little one’s gender with our nearest and dearest in person…we could not pass up the opportunity!

I cannot take any credit for how fun and creative the “Big Reveal” turned out to be.  Leave it to Kim Willson and Mary Kay Bowden, my best friends since we met as teeny little girls on Olive Street, to create the perfect “Margarita Mama” baby shower complete with a baby carriage piñata busting to announce GIRL or BOY!  I think you will see in the short video clip below that we were completely SURPRISED!

It’s a GIRL!!

Well…in case you couldn’t see clearly enough – all the candy inside the piñata was PINK – revealing that we are in fact having a baby GIRL.  And although Mary Kay and Kim obviously knew what we were having (as they filled the piñata themselves) they were totally shocked that we had not tried to milk it out of our mothers  – who were with us the day before at the ultrasound when the doctors determined that our little bun-in-the-oven is of the female variety.  To be fair – Donna (my mother-in-law) should also be given credit.  She read the ultrasound herself!

Brett busted it open with one swing! What a big strong baby daddy!

Honestly, it was a bit of a risk to do a big reveal so early in the pregnancy.  I was only 4 months at the time…which is still a little early to be 100% sure – but it was our only chance as it is not permitted to learn the baby’s sex here in China.  At 6 months in – we are 100% that Brett has his hands full with another “little me” on the way.  I believe my father’s words were “good luck with that”.  I am thrilled to continue on with the pink parade…and I feel confident that Brett is too!

Excited and totally surprised! Full disclosure…we had taken the “Intelligender” test (an over-the-counter pee stick type thingy” while we were in New Orleans a few days before, and it said BOY! Well…that was fifty bucks down the toilet – literally.

Our sweet guests watching Brett bust the piñata. The joy of growing up in a community like Murray, Kentucky (officially American’s friendliest small town) never fades. Thank you to all of you for celebrating this moment with us!

Hugging my mom. As her side of family only seems to produce little girls – I think she was a bit relieved. I did overhear her telling Brett’s mom – “I don’t think I would have known what to do with a boy!”  Mom…I have no doubt you would have figured it out!

Getting parenting tips from my dad. With my little brother, Bailey, having just turned six…his experience is not as dated as one might think!

With my sweet Mary Kay. Thank you to you and Kimmy for all the amazing details. What a treat to share this moment with you!  I can’t wait to watch Annabelle, Drewsie, and Olive tell Sanders and Russell that “NO BOYS” are allowed just like we told Robert!

Drew, Kimmy, and Mary Kay enjoying some tasty treats!

“Baby Girl Talk” with the ladies of the family. My mother-in-law Donna, My Aunts Jane, Lorna, & Cindy, and My Grandmothers Bettie and Jean.

Admiring the gift from Nanny, my maternal grandmother, a necklace given to her when she was five by my great-grandparents. So precious! Can’t wait to give it to our little Olive Bee when she turns five.

Chatting with some of my favorite humans on the earth!

What a special day for our family of 2.5!  Thank you again to our hosts and guests who made the day even more memorable for us.  We are so blessed!

A big thank you to Tara Dennison for capturing this moment for us on video!  It is such a treasure.

“Sorry – I Can’t…I Am Knocked Up!”

3 Jul

Last week Beijing celebrated Roberto Cavalli’s new fragrance at the Legendale Hotel with champagne, martinis, and one crazy Eastern European exotic dancer (i.e. – her full time job is most likely a stripper at Chocolate…click to read about this Beijing “treasure”).  I, on the other hand, celebrated with sparkling water and a headache from the strobe lights and the massive amounts of perfume being pumped through the vents.  Don’t get me wrong – I had a great time…but it turns out that some parties are less preggers friendly than others.

Brett & Morgan Hutchinson – Roberto Cavalli Fragrance Launch Beijing 2012

Sarah Wilson & Morgan Hutchinson – Roberto Cavalli Fragrance Launch Beijing 2012

One thing I certainly do love about being pregnant in China is that the local ladies praise you for the smallest of accomplishments.  Case in point – the mere fact that I was wearing heels awarded me many an admiring word.  But the highlight of my night came just moments after the “dancer” finished her routine and left the stage (more of a life-size trophy stand really).

“Exotic dancer” and an admiring male model at the Cavalli Fragrance Launch

As I stood there watching and chatting with Brett and Sarah, one of the local PR girls responsible for the event approached me and asked if I would like a “go”.

 “A go?  A go… at what, Miss?”  I quite confusedly asked her.
“Would you like to go next?” She responded, pointing to the trophy stand.
After my initial shock and short, yet warranted bout of laughter – I said to her, “Sorry, I can’t – I am knocked up!”
This of course was a bit lost in translation, so I quickly added, “I mean – I really shouldn’t,  I am 5 months pregnant”.  And then guess what happened?  That’s right – more praise for the high heels.  Fabulous.

I must be honest though – I was tempted.  If only the “stage” had been a little larger (and safer).  What a great story it could have been to tell the little one some day…  But alas – I guess I will just have to stick to the legendary tale of how her grandmother, Momo, beat out scores of 18-year olds at age 37 to win a HOT LEG’S CONTEST.  Not even an official mother yet – and I am already a disappointment  to our family’s legacy ♥

A Bump in Beijing!

27 Jun

While I cannot yet confirm whether or not our little one will be another Blonde in Beijing – I can confirm that this bump does in fact contain a petite-pois with an ETA of November 4th!  Brett and I couldn’t be happier.  I hope that this announcement will excuse my absence from posting of late.  Between the morning sickness, exhaustion, migraines, and two transatlantic trips to the states – leaving me with two lovely and lingering cases of jet lag, my creative juices have not been flowing…to say the least.  Now that I am 21 weeks along – my energy appears to be back a bit and my appetite for living vicariously through the Resort 2013 collections is in full force – I believe that I am back to being the Blonde in Beijing.  I am just a bigger version!

Speaking of bigger…here are shots of The Bump in Beijing from week 18 to 21.  More weekly “bump” shots to come (mostly for our family’s sake!)  And for my fashion followers – you needn’t worry.  With resort just finishing and couture shows around the corner, there will be plenty!

The Bump in Beijing: Weeks 18-21

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