Conversation with a Stranger

A few days back Leon and I hit the big town for a little adventure (well, errands…). Pausing for a moment in a coffee shop, to down some jarred spaghetti bolognese for one of us and a flat white for another, we had a random encounter with a stranger.

There I am, waiting patiently for my coffee at the end of the counter, when he waltzes past and starts talking to me out of the blue. He made some enthusiastic comment about this dress I was wearing, which prompted my to reply something about it being my mum’s old maxi, and how they don’t make them like they used to…these days… It ended up becoming a Conversation. We didn’t introduce ourselves, I didn’t shake hands with his mrs or ruffle his toddler’s hair, but it was nevertheless an Effortless Conversation with a Complete Stranger.

So what? I’ll tell you. I’ve spent 16 years in Sweden. And in Sweden we very seldom talk to strangers. You may get away with it if you’re an immigrant. Or if you’re drunk. Those are the two major explanations as to why you would want to break the social conventions and venture into someone else’s Personal Space. And it will most likely be perceived as an invasion. And you will be labeled as STRANGE. But then Sweden’s cold, weather-wise I mean. That must account for some of the reservedness..? I think so. It may sound a bit simplistic but, if you ask me, climate does affect culture in some very interesting ways.

I’m just saying, there’s something freeing and refreshing about sharing mundane comments with someone in the queue at Sainsbury’s or on the bus stop or the coffee shop. Even if it’s just a passing comment about the weather. It happens to us every day walking down these streets. And I love that about England. The distance between strangers just isn’t that big a deal.

Leon’s First Skating Video

We’ve had a few record hot days in an Octobery Birmingham and here’s what we’ve been up to:

Brad mowed the lawn and picked up autumn leaves in 27º heat! Leon helped. I stayed away from the rays and opted for some kitchen walls scrubbing. Lorenzo & Ernesto were shown what they’re missing out on…

Leon got a bowl cut.

And that’s what he thought of it!

Then we went to the skate park and had fun with Rebecca, Jacob and Daniel, and Leon made his first guest appearance in a skate vid! Nice, Jake!

All that rollin’ made Leon thirsty, ¡salud!

Hope you’re enjoying some nice autumnal weather wherever you are! (Unless you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, of course…) /s.

All Good

Saturdays are full of good intentions.

“First. I’m gonna have Breakfast. Black coffee and sautéed mushies on toast. Sitting down, in Peace; no rush. Then I’ll cut the grass, finish organising my wardrobe, rearrange the furniture in the hobby room and catch up on some reading. Oh, and run a half marathon.”

“Pah.” Doubtfully, my inner pessimist (I prefer calling her Ms Realistic) let out an aspirated exhalation.

Instead I said: “Don’t forget that we’re going out to That Party tonight. And that my roots are showing, again.” (Ms Realistic added “do the weekly shop” but I didn’t pay her any attention.)

At this point, Leon announced the beginning of the day by calling out “papá bye-bye” very loudly. It’s code for “Could you guys scramble out of bed and give me my bottle?! Please.” So we did.

And with that, Saturday was on The Roll.

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Husbands are full of good intentions.

The grass is still long and the hobby room still un-rearranged. But breakfast in the garden was sunny, the Party was epic, and my hair is a uniform shade of brown.

Today’s Monday. And Mondays, too, are full of good intentions.

Time for some Leon-snuggles.

A Little Bit of Summer

SUMMER. More than 10 years after graduating from school, I’m still dividing my year into terms: Autumn term, Spring term and Summer term. Warm sunny days and long illusive nights. In the land of the Midnight Sun anyway. And even if this Summer I’ve been working more than usual there is still that lovely lingering feeling of everything slowing down for a while.

This year we were lucky to have the Grandparents come visit from Down Under and stay for a good old time! So nice for everybody to get together again and especially for Leon to meet them for the first time and be thoroughly spoiled! Fred&Liz&Levi popped by in July and we got to fly over to Sweden for a great family rendez-vous on the Summer Island, as well as duck over to Örebro quickly to see Brad’s Swedes—what a treat! And to finish it all off we went camping in the Malverns, 1-year old and all. It was fun! Oh and then there was Leon’s first ever birthday!

Here’s a few samples of all the adventures!

Grandpa Ken and Leon

Watching the Royal Wedding downtown Brum with the relos

The Gómez-Ortega cousins—4 babies under 1!

Chilling with Grandma Inger and Grandpa Geoff

Pretty Great Malvern with Abuelito & Abuelita

Having fun with Abuelito imitating the birdies!

Walking in the Malverns

Kookaburras in Bourton-on-the-Water

It’s a Bolivian piyu!

Levi looking good in Speedos

The Jimmy Spices’ crew sang for Leon and gave him cake!

Leon’s Baby Blessing

Yesterday we had Leon’s baby blessing at church.

Being practicing Christians, both Brad and I feel it’s important to integrate our faith in all aspects of life, and that includes exposing and involving Leon and any other babies we may have in the future in that way of life. Being a Christian is ultimately an individual choice, I know, which is partly why we’ve chosen not to baptise Leon as a baby, leaving it up to him to take that step when/if he’s ready for it later on.

It’s tempting to think that we should not influence our children in any direction when it comes to faith questions, but I strongly feel that that is a naive perception of things. If I don’t teach Leon what I know, someone else will. He will not reamin an empty or, rather, objective vessel until his teens, the time when he will hopefully be ready to start making his own important decisions. He will be influenced by society all around him, be it in the form of music, literature, teachers or peers. I would be failing him as a parent if I didn’t provide him any guidance, give any sort of  absolute truths, to help him make sense of life and relationships.

Brainwashing? I honestly don’t think so. Thinking, discussing, reasoning and praying together. That’s how we hope to teach Leon what we know.

It’s such an important matter and in no way an easy issue. What do you think?

Anyway, the lovely Mrs Louis wrote a piece on the day in her Tumblr and uploaded a few pics! Check it our here. Thanks Hanna, and thanks thanks thanks to all our dear friends for making this such a happy day! //s.

Lyckesand and Beyond

Six years ago, on a beautiful (to us unbeknown) nudist beach, Bradley and I said our I-dos to one another. ¡Felicidades!

That was in another time, when Brad’s hair was thick, our tummies thin and you could still see my cheekbones. But most of all, it was in a time when we hardly knew each other at all. Well, we’d been going steady for a while (2 years if you ask me—3 and a bit if you ask Brad…) but going from romantic dinners and epic Rome-trips to sharing a flat, a kitchen, a bed and a bike was something quite different altogether. This whole doing-life-together thing became a hard, painful and at times very loud process which went on for…a while.

Recently we watched a program about newlyweds and the so-called One Year Itch. A camera crew had been there on the featured couples’ wedding day and returned one year on to see how they were handling the Itch. One girl in her early twenties said: ‘It’s all very well to promise this and that on the Bible but then to actually live it is just impossible’ (or words to that effect…). How sad.

Here’s how I see it. Everyone who’s ever been in a relationship knows that it takes a lot of give-and-take to make it work. Question is how much we are prepared to compromise and negotiate and adjust. Some work away at their uncomfortable differences and get over the hurdles, and manage to stay together their entire life. Betty and Joe (Beatrice and Giovanni are their real names…) next door have been married for more than 50 years! And some just don’t see their relationship as being worth that much trouble, or they may even get a disappointing surprise when the honeymoon sweetness is over (like some of the guys on that show) and call it a day after some time. When I married Brad I said ‘til death do us part’ and somehow I think that’s kept me grounded and utterly eliminated any other option or possibility.

Oh dear, this is all sounding very doom and gloom-y! All work and no play. Nothing could be further from the truth though. Honestly. Here’s where I should list all the fun and shenanigans we’ve had…ha, how cheesy! Look, I’m just saying, if you have a common base and the same general expectations from the relationship it’s going to be super fun. With a touch of work.

We’re all going to change with the years and ultimately become quite different people from who we once were in front of the altar all those years back. I think the crux is, will we go through these changes on our own, living as it were in our own parallel worlds, or will we change together?

When I look at pictures from the big day I’m surprised at how distanced I feel from the innocent little girl grinning back at me. It’s only been six years, but already I feel I’ve changed so much and that our relationship has changed even more. Thank God for that!

And that’s me taking my Love Doctor hat off. Night-night! //s.

Him & Her & the Flowers

“Don’t you like my my hair?” I say, pointing at my semi-beehive, adorned with bright red flowers.
“You know how I feel about knitted flowers,” he says.
“Crochet,” I say.
“You look great. Didn’t I say that already?” he says.
“No. No you did not,” I say.
“I always think you look great,” he says.
“Well, you need to tell me,” I say.
“I tell you all the time,” he says.
“You tell me when I’ve washed my face and am going to bed,” I say.
“Yeah, but that’s an even greater compliment. I mean, I think you look great without make up and hair-dos. You know. Naturally,” he says.
“In that case I could just stop making an effort,” I say. “Just splash water on my face and walk around in sweats.”
“Don’t be so melodramatic,” he says.
“I’m not being melodramatic,” I say. “And will you stop saying I look great. These woolly socks are great. My snowball lamp is great.”
“Sure, if you stop wearing knitted flowers,” he says.
“CROCHET!”

Personalised Planner

Photo: personligalmanacka.se

Just thought I’d share with you the job I’m working on at the moment.

Personlig almanacka, or Personalised Planner as they’re known in plain English, is the brilliant idea that you should be able to customise and design the content and look of that little book you use everyday. The possibilities to tweak and change and add what you want into the planner are immense, and clicking your way through the design-app and seeing your very own planner come together is super fun! So don’t be one of those Apple-heads and go “it’s all in my iCal”; the paper stuff is here forever!

I’m really enjoying working with these cool and professional guys! Don’t forget to check them out! //s.

Rootworks (and Cyber-Suicide)

First then, an apology for the long absence. They tell me irregularity with blogs and tweets and things is cyber-suicide. Let’s hope not..! Signs of life, please!

Quite a bit has been happening during these silent weeks. My lovely in-laws from Australia arrived for a 6 weeks stay with us (first time they meet Leon and vice-versa; so exiting!), Leon’s first little tooth broke through (insert tears here), Kate and Will tied the knot (we shared the big day with a pumping crowd on Victoria Square, watching it on big screens, waiving Union Jacks and standing up solemnly for God Save the Queen!), and… AAAND I gave up my day job. I am now officially a:

1. Wife

2. Mother

3. My own Boss!

Ever since we moved to the UK we’ve been running a translations business on the side. We’ve never really spent much time marketing it or actively looking for jobs and projects, rather using the company to channel the jobs that kept dropping into our laps. Now though, we feel the time is ready to launch it big style, so I’m going for it and we’ll see where it takes me!

The name of the company? Rootworks!

So if you have any translation/proofing/editing/writing needs, drop us a visit! Where? At Rootworks!

See you there! //s.

Happy Resurrection Day!

I love Easter Sunday. I’m filled with such deep joy remembering Christ’s resurrection and his power to restore, redeem and make all things new.

And I love this clip. I know it’s not new, and I know Mr Bell is controversial on other points. But this, my friends, is Good News.

Happy Resurrection Day!