Well, we finally got B’s passport. We are back in Brooklyn! And I have already, within the space of 24 hours, done 3 loads of laundry and accidentally picked up a piece of stray poop, thinking it was a pebble.

Welcome home.

[Confession: I’ve actually been home for over a week. But I’m drastically off blogging schedule as the day after I got home, we packed up for a trip to Boston/New Hampshire and Vermont for school vacation week. In two days, I am leaving for Mexico City. There has been an unnatural amount of travel in my life over the past month, and I will divulge more about Mexico in my next post!]

Entry into the US was completely stress-free. When I produced B’s birth certificate at customs, to assure them I am INDEED her mother, the customs agent said, “No need. We believe you.”

And once again, on cue, I burst into tears. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to return to US soil.

The flight wasn’t too bad either. If you ignore the fact that we were delayed for two hours, sitting on the runway while I sang every song to B in my Baby Einstein repertoire. And the fact that the busty blonde sitting on my right clearly had no children, judging by her response to B’s flirty overtures.

But if there’s something I’ve learned in all this, England has changed.

THe England of my youth – the country I grew up in – is no more. I’ve lived in the US for so long, that methinks I’ve been guilty of looking at England the way many foreigners do, as a land full of jolly olde jokesters who talk funny, shun dentistry and serve scones and marmite for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

In the England of my youth, the streets were dappled with pubs serving warm beer and Ploughman’s Lunches (french bread, cheddar cheese and Branston Pickle.) In the England of today, neighborhoods are overrun with boutique bars offering chocolate mojitos and low fat daquiris.

In the England of my youth, a visit to the American Embassy was a relaxing jaunt into Grosvenor Square, passing by the occasional bobby wielding a truncheon.

Today’s American Embassy is guarded by giant policemen wielding AK 47s. The Embassy is in fact moving locations soon, to a building that is apparently surrounded by a moat. I kid you not.

In the England of my youth, the most exciting celebrity spottings were local pop stars. I remember visiting the video store at the age of 16 and spotting Adam Ant, in full stripes. To say that I got my knickers in a twist is an understatement. In today’s England, you’re more likely to run into Gwynnie at the gym or while buying a cut of humanely-treated prime rib at the sustainable butcher shop.

And while today’s England may be healthier, wealthier and probably more rife with excitement and international intrigue, I like a little grit mixed in with my high gloss paint. Gives it texture.

But my biggest lesson learned…albeit begrudgingly… is that charm alone may no longer make up for my sins of omission. There is no leeway when it comes to passports and immigration and proving you’re the mother to your beloved child. No earnest smiles and batting of eyelids will smoothe over the cracks of bureacratic snafus. Only paperwork will do. Yawn.

And now for something completely different:

Did you see the Oscars last night? Yes, the show was embarrassingly uncomfortable and quite boring, apart from Jeff Bridges, hubby’s and mine joint crush. People say hubby reminds them of a younger Jeff.

But the true highlight was Nicole Kidman’s dress.

What happened, darlin'?

I know she’s been living the blissed out country lifel, but that’s no excuse for this Nashville show-girl get-up. Really, Nicole.