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.

In the Garden

Summer’s arrived! And to celebrate, Leon and I agreed to have our meals in the garden today. It’s so fun to see him discover and react to all the sounds and colours and everything else out there. Can you imagine what that must be like? A brand new world, bathed in sunshine and brimming with life. He saw a butterfly for the first time and stopped chewing mid-bite to stare and point. His fascination for tiny details is so touching, his new(ish) soul filling up with all things strange and exiting, his awe of life pure and sincere. Even an annoying fly will make him forget what he’s doing and just watch. At what point in life do we lose this sense of joy and awe..?

When it comes to Leon’s language advancements I often get asked if he’s started signing yet. No. Crawling? No. Sitting up properly..? Sort of. So he’s not one of those speedy babies who start walking at 9 months or sign the alphabet at 10 months, but hey, as soon as all of that starts happening my chilled days will be over…so I’m just taking a hint from my son and enjoying life as it is now.

Now, when it comes to comprehension, that kicks in sometime around month 7. And it’s been a good old while now that I’ve noticed that with Leon. Here’s two examples: When we eat I always ask Leon if he wants some agua (at the same time as I make the sign for water—that’s how spoken language and signs complement one another). He then always turns his head to look at the sippy cup on the table on his right. He loves his water. The other thing he adores is trains. The train tracks run just behind our house so every 5 minutes or so we’ll here them swish by. I always say ¡TREN! and Leon turns his head towards the window or the back door if open, as he seems to realise they aren’t in the same room. He goes by the sound. Then the other day we were playing in the lounge and I handed him his toy train and said ¡TREN!, and Leon did his thing without hesitation and turned his head towards the french doors. So now we just need to move on to explaining that actually, “train” is a category with lots and lots of “prototypes” like they say in linguistics…

People who don’t see Leon everyday say he grows so quickly. I wish I could see that, but I’m too close. What I can see though, and what I try to keep a record of here on this blog among other places, is the development of his inner person, and that, I hope, will keep me fascinated for life.

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!”

Dr Rachel Says: No to SLS!

Hi folks! This is Dr Rachel again.

We’ve started a short series here to expose some of the most common nasties that manufacturers put into our beauty products. Last time we talked about parabens, and today we’ll take a closer look at its evil cousin sodium lauryl sulfate.

SODIUM LAURYL/LAURETH SULFATE (also listed as SLS or SLES)

What is it?
This lovely little ingredient is the base of most foaming body products we use, cleansers, shower gels, shampoos, baby products—it’s in everything! It is what makes your shampoo or body wash foam up so much and is de-greasing and cleansing.

What are the risks?
The reason SLS is so widely used is because it is a very cheap ingredient, but it is a very harsh cleansing agent which can be very irritating to skin and can severely dry it out, which is especially bad news for sensitive skin. Your skin produces oil (known as sebum) to act as a protective barrier against germs entering your body through your skin. Strong detergents like sodium lauryl sulphate strip away these protective oils leaving it dry and irritated and more open to infection. This can lead to dry, irritated skin and also acne and other skin issues.

Interestingly, detergents like SLS are so strong, especially in products made for your face, that your skin becomes very dehydrated and tries to compensate it by overproducing sebum to protect itself. Then, because your skin seems oily to you, you use even more cleanser and scrub away, and therein begins the vicious cycle. It’s a delicate balance, but usually by moisturising your skin with the right oils you can restore the skin’s natural balance, so you’ll actually clear up oily skin and blemishes for good!

What are more natural alternatives to SLS?
Many of the more natural companies use much milder foaming agents—look for lauryl glucoside, sodium lauroyl glucoside (I know they sound similar but they’re much gentler!) and ammonium lauryl sulphate or cocamidopropryl betaine. These are gentler, vegetable-based cleansers which still effectively clean the skin without interfering with the skin’s natural oil balance, leaving you with softer, smoother and blemish-free skin. It also means that you won’t need to slather on the moisturiser and that’s a money-saver in itself!

(Note: even some of the products which say they are natural, organic, dermatologically-tested or hypoallergenic may not be. The legislation for making such claims on cosmetic packaging is not very strict so be sure to read the ingredients label!)

That’s all for now. See you next time!

xx Dr Rachel

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!

Easter Outing

Just a quick one! Today we discovered Cannon Hill Park in Edgebaston. After 5 years in the city! It’s LOVELY. Here’s Leon enjoying the sunshine (shade…) and blowing spit bubbles. Hope your Good Friday has been full of hope. //s.

For the Love of Charity… Sort of!

Brad, Leon and I have had one of those legendary fun and sunny weekends that reminds you just how blessed you are. Friday: in the garden most of the day, Leon’s first taste of fresh grass, first sunburn of the year and soil underneath the fingernails. Saturday: Day trip to Worcester, Leon’s first train ride, delicious lunch quiche and inspiring conversation with good old friends. Sunday: CAR BOOT SALE!!! This last one has had me salivating for weeks… In the soon 5 years we’ve lived here, we’ve not been to a single one, and I’d started to become resentful. But then… as his contributory 2 cents to New Generation’s yearly fundraising campaign, Brad suggested we de-clutter the house and go hawk it all at the Hockley Heath car boot sale. Well, he didn’t need to ask twice!

So, Sunday morning at 5:00 am, we loaded the Micra and packed the baby and went off! It was such an fun day! And we got 100 pounds of sales, to go straight to New Generation! Here’s a few samples of the day…

Neat husband, neat lot.

When all other topics of conversation are exhausted, there’s always the war…

Cold porridge is the best kind of porridge.

Oh, we also found some cool bits for la casa!

Cute owl, 10 pence

Excellent mirror, 2 pounds

Fun polaroid, 10 pence (so what if it doesn’t work?!)

Leon catching some zzz.

All in all, the perfect day. //s.