Monday, 24 April 2017

Our Easter Holidays 2017



The boys went back to school today after the 2 week Easter holidays,  we had a good break, a few days out, lots of time at home,  playing games (board and xbox)  and seeing friends.  I thought I'd share a few highlights.

In the first week we went to WOW (a soft play place in Larnaca) with Sam and the kids, which was probably the boys highlight of the holiday.   We only tend to go once a year or so as we have a similar place closer to home but they prefer WOW as it's more of a treat.  We were there for almost 5 hours and apart from a short stop for lunch they played non-stop, meaning that Sam and I had a nice chat over tea and chocolate croissants, we are loving the fact that we actually get to almost finish a conversation after all these years!

After WOW we went back to their house for cookie and egg decorating and then the kids enjoyed dinner at a film together - after leaving our house at 9:30am  it was no surprise that they were exhausted by the time we returned gone 8pm.


We had lots of plans for meet ups but the weather was not on our side in the first week.  Picnic in the park was cancelled due to the likelihood it was going to rain.   That is one problem living in Cyprus that if the weather isn't good then there is not much to do.

Good Friday meant that Leo's usual taekwondo lesson wasn't on, so we met the usual group of Mum's and kids at our favourite restaurant, Zaferios.   The first visit for us this year and a great afternoon / evening,  the boys play so happily there with their friends that we can easily be there for 5 hours or more!

Saturday was another day out, as it was the Tiny Acorns Creativity Easter Event,   a brilliant day as always with over 30 children attending,  a huge picnic, crafts, games and of course an egg hunt.  We were so lucky with the weather, with just a few spots of rain towards the end of the afternoon.



It was also Leo's name day (April 15th)  and Leo was pleased that he got to see all of his friends on the day.   He loved his card from all of us, and made by Nana with a Pokemon theme to it.   We also gave him a cuddly Pikachu which he has hardly put down since!


I did think about taking Leo to the church on the Saturday night for the first time but as the main service doesn't start until 11:30pm I decided against it.  Maybe one year if we are meeting others too rather than trying to figure out what is going on by myself.  We did our own version of Cypriot traditions though and lit candles and broke red eggs with each other.

Easter Sunday and Monday were full of food, drinks and fun with dinner at ours on the Sunday and Mum's on Monday.   We also finally got to play Cards Against Humanity on Sunday evening (after convincing the kids to watch a film indoors)  it was worth the wait and probably the most I have laughed in a long time!

The weather improved in the second week,  and they boys had the first swim of the year.   I did dig out my bikini but after putting a foot in the water I decided to supervise from the nice warm sunbed.


Yesterday (Sunday) was the last day and I took the boys to the beach,  I was fully prepared this time with towels, swim shorts etc,  and was wearing a vest top myself,  however I'd not realised how windy it was and the red flags were out and it was really cold!  The waves were amazing though,  I've never seen them like that before.

They still enjoyed running around with their friends and a juice and a packet of crisps,   it wasn't a bad way to end the school holiday!


Sunday, 23 April 2017

Getting on with it #SlimmingSunday

I posted 3 weeks ago debating on the secret to losing weight and as you may have guessed I am yet to find it!  It started well, even though I didn't get round to writing a blog post and joining Mummy From the Heart's Slimming Sunday link up and I lost 5lb.  I went to my usual Zumba class and put 110% effort into it, and loved it despite the fact I thought I was going to collapse into a heap before the end!

The following week was not SO good, but it also wasn't that bad,  and then the kids broke up for the Easter holidays.....

Hmmm,  all my plans of  'just a little bit of chocolate' on Easter Sunday fell by the wayside and all good plans went WAY out the window for the whole two weeks. It's been a good two weeks though, with days out and a lovely family and friends BBQ on Easter Sunday.

Oh well,  onwards and upwards,  or preferably downwards.

Both of my exercise classes were not running over Easter but they are both back on from tomorrow so it's back to school and straight back to Zumba, I must admit I'm not feeling completely enthusiastic about it but I know it will be fine once I get moving,  plus Fridays class is on the beach so I'm really looking forward to that.

I will try and join Slimming Sunday again next week,  and so I'd better try a lot harder, I really can't come back with another list of excuses!


Sunday, 2 April 2017

The Secret to Losing Weight

What is the secret to losing weight?

The magic thing that means you decide you are going to, and then actually do it?

Of course there is no actual secret to losing weight,  in theory it couldn't be easier - eat less, move more, simple?

But it's not that easy, not anywhere near that easy!

There is a mindset that you have to get yourself in, and I can't remember how to get there.


I lost 4 stone in about 12 months back in 2006, going from just over 15 stone to 11 stone. I'd been overweight all my adult life (and much of my childhood)  I was focused and stuck to the plan almost every day. I literally exercised my butt off and I loved feeling the sense of achievement as the pounds dropped off.

I honestly believed that I was set for life then,  of course I knew I'd have to watch what I ate to a degree but I thought that as I knew what I was doing and being a size 10 /12 was amazing , that no cake would be worth giving up the skinny jeans for.  I thought I'd just carry on doing what I was doing with a little bit more leeway and a FEW more treats then when I was on the way down.

It was ok for a year, until pregnancy, and since then I've bounced up and down from 12 something back up to 14 again. I've now lost count of how many times I've rejoined Slimming World, when I really didn't think I'd ever have to after reaching target all those years ago.   I last went  to SW over a year ago,  I'd 'cheated' and changed my target, making it higher than I really wanted it to be in an attempt to get there and be able to stop working so hard.

This time last year I was feeling unfit and I spent several months 'thinking' about getting round to joining an exercise group of some sort.  I managed to procrastinate about the whole thing until just before the summer holidays when I told myself I should wait until the boys were back at school.

I eventually joined the Tempo team with their new Reflex class in September and I'm still loving it. It has helped with strength and flexibility since then, and gave me the confidence to finally try Zumba (which I had been kinda wanting to do for many years!)

Unfortunately it seems that somewhere along the line I decided it didn't matter what I was eating as I was now exercising - completely missing the point as usual!  I got on the scales at the weekend and was quite shocked.

Photos taken in 2004 and 2007,  I'm closer to the original photo again these days.
So,  what is the secret?   What is it that made me get on it so seriously all those years ago, and how the hell can I get it back!

In a few weeks it will be hot again here, and I'll be swearing at my shorts and little dresses,  and getting out the bikinis again.

In 7 months I'm going to be 40........40!!!    If that's not time to get on with it I don't know what it,  I'd rather be fit and forty than fat and thirty so I guess I'd better get on with it!


Life According to MrsShilts
Linking up to #SlimmingSunday hosted by @michelletwinmum and @mrsshilts

Friday, 31 March 2017

Catch up - February and March

Where do you start when you haven't blogged in over a month?   Should I try and fill in the gaps by posting individually about all the things that popped into my head in that time and the things we did but never that made it to the blog, in the way that I would like to look back on one day,   or do I try and catch up with an overview post and some photo highlights.

Maybe a bit of both is in order,  to start me off and to cover the distinct possibility that my blogging mojo will run out before I get round to the in depth versions.  After all I have a post in draft with a couple of lines of text and a few photos waiting completion on Jaxon's 3rd birthday party and it's now the month after his 4th!

So off the top of my head, in no particular order

We took the boys to the Lego exhibition and their very first trip to the cinema.


We all had a great day and it was a real novelty for them to spend a whole day out somewhere different,  first with the exhibition and then the mall and cinema to see the new Lego Batman movie, then ending the day with a trip to Ikea and their first time in the kids play area there. Which they enjoyed just as much as any other part of the day!


Green Monday was a great day, MUCH better weather than last year, although we weren't too convinced first thing as it was very windy. We changed location from what was planned and ended up on a new beach for us which was a great little find and we had the whole thing to ourselves for most of the time.


The weather was good, and the wind dropped so we all ended up removing layers and getting the first bit of sun of the year.  The kids were a bit braver than 'most' of the adults and all ended up in the water.


Jaxon's 'Blaze and the Monster Machines' themed birthday party was of course a highlight of March,  in true Tiny Acorns style it was awesome and the kids loved every second.




Another first was a family trip to the circus which was just down the road from us for a couple of weeks.  A real treat for all of us and surprisingly good. It's hard not to get a bit pessimistic about events here because things rarely turn out to be as good as you hope!  But it was enjoyed by Aaron and I as much as the boys. We have proved that they don't like candy floss though - after pleading for some despite the fact I'd taken sweets and crisps for them I relented and brought a stick, only to end up eating it all myself!


There was the usual taekwondo lessons for Leo, he's now a yellow belt and still enjoying going twice a week.   They are both getting on ok at school,  although we're still trying to get Louka to speak to his teacher,  two and a half years at school and he's still never said a word to anyone other than the kids in his class occasionally.

I've been going to Zumba twice a week and Reflex every Tuesday.  I've STILL not got back into following Slimming World,  instead just lulling myself into a false sense of security that I can eat whatever I want as I'm exercising, which clearly is not the case!


And of course,  the biggest thing for us has been the fact that our new addition to the business is finished and the Limo Booth ( fully converted Mercedes Limousine Photo Booth)  is now complete and ready for action!

We've been testing, testing and testing for weeks and last week we had our launch event and the test of our 'in-car-aoke'  - lip sync karaoke style video fun in the booth.   It's absolutely awesome, and I'm so proud of Aaron for working so hard over the last 6 months and making the idea a reality.   It's so good that it definitely warrants it's own blog post!

Limousine photo booth Cyprus

Photo Booth Limousine

That's pretty much us up to date with the big things,  we're just heading into the start of the season here in Cyprus,  less than 2 weeks until our first wedding and the Easter holidays,  we've got a very busy looking calendar ahead of us and I've still got a to do list as long as my arm - nothing new there then!


Wednesday, 1 March 2017

The 1000th post!

Here it is,  my 100th blog post!

2,722 days ago I wrote my very first blog post,  sitting in my parents conservatory with a 4 month old Leo asleep beside me.  It was a spur of the moment decision,  I knew nothing about blogs, had never read any or thought about writing one. I can't even remember what made me think of it but I stumbled across the idea while messing about online and thought 'yeah, I'm going to start a blog!'

There was never a plan,  or ultimate aim for the blog (there still isn't to be honest!) but I'm sure I didn't imagine still doing it over 7 years later, or the things that have progressed from it.

Looking back over old posts I can see how they have evolved over time,  the early ones are very short - I think I was worried about waffling on too much and it being boring (totally missing the point that it was MY blog and I could do what I wanted!)  I wish I'd gone into more detail on some of them now,  maybe one day I'll get round to elaborating on some old stories.

I've often thought about going back and deleting some of the early posts or old out of date ones but I thought it would be hard to work out where to stop and they all add up to what makes this blog so they stay.  It would also mean that this wouldn't be the 1000th post!

There were very few images too in the early days, I hadn't realised how much they add to a post and I wouldn't dream of posting one without at least one picture these days, but that was before it became second nature to share the post on facebook or pinterest.

Speaking of facebook, I had a notification the other day that is was the 10th facebook anniversary.    I can hardly remember a time before it!  What on earth did I do with my time!

Always one for a bit of nostalgia,  I really enjoy the facebook memories that pop up each morning, and it is very clear that the way I use it has changed a huge amount over the years. Of course it follows as back then I was married but 'free'  - going out to the pub several times a week, working in a job I didn't particularly enjoy and generally posting whatever random stuff popped into my head.

Back in those days there were much fewer people on it, I remember people talking about it and more and more people joining up all the time, the joy of finding some old school friend you'd lost contact with and 'poking' people or throwing virtual sheep at them.

No-one gave too much though to what they would post,  (actually most people probably still don't!) and I posted many random and annoying vague status updates,  always being irritated that they has to start with 'Emma is....'

It's changed a lot over the years as have the way I use facebook.  I'm still on it just as much if not more than ever but it's our main source of advertising and also I'm just very nosy as to what's going on with everyone!  I think twice (often more than that) before I post these days,  aware that not all my facebook friends are actually real friends.

I really can't imagine having never started this blog, and a life without social media,   that may sound strange but without both I'm not sure what I'd be doing now.   I'm very thankful that I decided to start this all those years ago and it lead me here to where we are today.


Will there be another 1000 blog posts from me?   I have no idea,  at the rate I've been going it would take a lot longer than another seven years but who knows!

Thursday, 16 February 2017

A 'Love'ly day - Valentines 2017

You may remember previous years posts about Valentines day, and how we don't really celebrate it in our house,  by 'we' I meant of course Aaron - for the last couple of years I've done something small to mark the occasion with the boys but we've not exchanged cards or done anything out of the ordinary. It's a bit of a long running joke - I 'moan' about it but I got over it a long time ago and don't sulk like I did when I was 18.

The day before Valentines I was talking to Leo and gave him some advice....  I suggested that when he was older and had a girlfriend he should always get them a Valentines card,   if nothing else it would make them very happy and save himself from a lot of grief.   Of course Aaron was in earshot and he muttered something about 'forced romance and over priced roses'  - or something,  I was too busy laughing.

I didn't get Aaron a card, or present as I haven't done for many years, and I no longer feel bad about it even if he does do something, which is lucky as he actually gave me the best Valentines card ever!

A simple card, but EXACTLY what I've always said about it,  its not what you spend, its what you do so it was perfect.


He'd written a poem inside,   which had me laughing my head off...

It's that special day again.....
A day that is loved by poets and bards,
A day that calls for flowers and cards,
A day on which I usually pass
and a day on which you normally call me an arse.

So I actually got you a card this year,
as I know it will fill you with joy and cheer.
but please remember you silly old tart
that I love you with all of my heart,
and no matter what else you hear
you are my valentine every day of the year.

I'm not sure that you are supposed to call your Valentine a 'silly old tart' but I wasn't going to moan about that.  (and don't tell him but he *may* have a point!)


Sam came round in the afternoon, so the kids exchanged home made cards and paintings and then enjoyed a special lunch.   Leo actually came up to me and told me it was the best party ever,   I was very surprised and gave him a strange look,  at which point he changed his statement to 'best celebration lunch ever'  - not bad for some heart shape stuff, sandwiches, crisps, and sweets on the table with a few items borrowed from the photo booth props and I took the chance to use our new light box. 




I love how they are still easily pleased,  and they were even more excited when I gave them peach juice out of a big carton with their dinner.

Sam and the kids went home for their own Valentines dinner,  and they finished the day with Valentines themed milk and cookies - I wish I'd thought of that too!

Image credit - Tiny Acorns Creativity

We finished off our day once the kids were in bed with a takeaway KFC - because nothing says I love you like dinner in a bucket!

Friday, 10 February 2017

Daxi Business Awards 2016

Saturday night was the eagerly awaited 4th Daxi Business Awards, I'd been looking forward to the evening since leaving the last one - and we were almost the very last to leave!

The run up to the awards saw lots of planning, and chat - not so much about the nominees although of course that was debated on, but more about what to wear and who was going and how we were all looking forward to a big night out!

Sam and I was discussing dress options way back, before we were even thinking about Christmas,  having worn the same dress two years running (oh the shame!) of course I HAD to have a new one this year.   It's not that easy to find the perfect dress of course,  especially here in Cyprus especially if you are on a tight budget but we were both very lucky and found great dresses and they were bargains as well.

Next up for me was the whole shoe problem,   for those of you who follow on facebook you may have seen my dilemmas,  as well as a rather fetching photo Aaron shared of me trying to get used to them whilst wearing pajamas!   I was very worried about the shoes, I was never a fan of high heels and have hardly worn them at all in almost 9 years.   But wearing a posh dress with flats is not the same is it?


I preserved though and wore the shoes,  I am relived to say that I (and my ankles) survived and I didn't fall over or even stumble.  I was tottering about though and they seemed to get bigger as the night progressed and I struggled to stop my feet slipping out.

I confess that I did cheat, and changed into another pair by the end of the ceremony!  Also heels but much smaller and after the huge ones I'd taken off they felt like slippers in comparison.  I made it to the end of the evening, even danced in them without taking them off.


Anyway,  of course the actual point of the evening is the awards,  and we / I was up for two - 'Best Newcomer' for Klik Photo CY, and 'Outstanding Contribution to the Community' for the Famagusta Parents Network. Sharing a table with our friends meant there was an extra chance of one of us going home with one as Alliance Partnership and Blood Brothers were both up for 'Service Provider of the Year'

There were several people I was rooting for as well as our table, unfortunately only one won an award but of course as it's all about the dressing up and dancing the taking part.  At least it meant I didn't have the possibility of tripping up the stairs to the stage!

We had an absolute ball, the food was great, there was a fantastic fire show,   the drinks were flowing (I'm pleased to say at a sensible rate for us and I walked out at the end of the night still capable of having a half sensible conversation!)   and I got to dance until I couldn't convince the DJ to carry on any longer (he's a friend of ours that we often work with so I should know better what its like when you want to go home and over excited people are begging for more!)

Once again I took very few photos, although I did slightly better than last year where I only got two - and both of those were of the table centerpiece.



Cheers!

note the change of shoes...
It was great to see so many people we know, and to see them all looking so gorgeous.  The problem was recognising people in a different context than I'd usually see them, and it was probably not helped by the fact I wasn't wearing my glasses!

Saying that, several people said they didn't recognise me - it's amazing what professional hair and make up can do.   I loved my hair and make up so much,  even more than what I had done on my actual wedding day.

Hair & Make up by Bliss, Ayia Napa
Time to start planning my birthday party I think - need another big night out to look forward too!




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