Friday, 14 September 2018

A New Era

It's the start of a new era in our family,  not only is it back to school time which is always a big change after 3 months off but this year both boys are in the same school for the first time!

Louka has been very excited to go and has taken it all very well so far,  this morning was the first sign of reluctance - saying 'Well I don't really want to go to school today' but that was as much as we got.  Leo laughed and said 'You don't get to choose!'  and he got on with it. 

They seem to be very happy so far being together, and its made school runs much easier. No more debates on who to drop off or pick up first, and no more driving!   As school is just down the road we are now walking which I am really enjoying and a great start to the day. 

I could write more but after years of oversharing online I'm becoming increasingly reluctant to,  maybe I'm getting older and wiser, maybe it's because I have a much wider selection of facebook 'friends' and I don't want to bump into someone in Lidl whose name I can't remember but knows what I did last week. 

I've been thinking for some time about what I write about the boys on my blog, like several other 'Mummy Bloggers' from back in the day and that as well as other commitments these days is why I write so infrequently now. 

I think about closing it, but can't quite bring myself to write a 'final' post.  Everytime I write a post I get a renewed enthusiasm and decide I will start regularly again.

I struggle with the idea of taking the blog offline completely or leaving it here in case I change my mind, I'm still not sure. 

Maybe this 'new era' is the time to move on. 

Back to school

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Now you are 6 {Loukas}

Dear Louka,

Happy 6th birthday little dude!

I should probably stop calling you the little one - I know you are not that little any more!

A big year for you this year - you finished Prodimodiki (pre-school) and in 2 weeks time you move up to first grade and start your new school with your brother who will be going into fourth grade.  I really hope you enjoy school as much as Leo, and settle in well.   You are very excited at the moment anyway.

This year you have changed a lot, so chatty and funny at home and you are much more of an equal to Leo when you play these days.  You have got so much better with playing games, and not always winning,  unless you play Leo, when you are more likely to get upset by losing.   It's like you don't mind not to win, as long as you are not losing to him!

Your love of this year has been football, ever since you watched the World Cup with Dad.  I love your conviction that one day you will be in a world cup team, despite never having played an actual game yourself.  Keep practising though - you can do anything if you want to enough!

I'm not sure what the highlights of the year will be for you,  I guess having Nic, Roy and their family come out for a holiday will be one of them - you got on so well with Roy and Zac in particular but I loved to see you enjoying spending time with all of them, and playing with and chatting to the other kids in the evenings.

You've been to mini golf a few times this year with Nana and Grandad, and one time you got a hole in one!  

Until this year you had never been on a boat, and this year you've been on two!  Both times you got off for a swim and loved it.  Talking of swimming, you are amazing at that now - you ended the summer last year by taking off your armbands and being able to swim in the shallow end, or near the edge but now you can jump in anywhere, swim under and over water and not panic. 

You can also do an amazing flying squirrel jump into the pool

Hope you have an EPIC birthday and enjoy your Minecraft birthday party!

Lots of love and huggles,   Mum xx

Monday, 2 July 2018

The Not So Quick Blog Post

After taking the boys to bed this evening, I suddenly fancied writing a blog post. I've no idea what prompted this idea after all this time (not counting Leo's birthday post, which I felt I should write, it has been almost 7 months!)

I decided not to 'over think' it, not to think about what I *should* be doing, to forget the fact I should  maybe do some ironing, or write a work blog post, or many other things.

I always wrote my blog posts on the balcony, and I've missed sitting out there in the evening. Now I have a desktop computer I'm always inside and sitting there just feels like I'm working, we also gave up smoking back in February which means we hardly sit there any more.

So, what a great plan it was - grab my laptop, get a drink and throw together a quick post - easy!

That was about an hour ago,
I got my laptop, of course it was dead as a dodo.  Where might the charger be then?

I found it, quite happily in the 3rd place I looked.
Fab, plug in, move chair closer to the plug point, boot up laptop.

Then remember why I got a desktop PC
The laptop is the slowest thing I have ever had the misfortune to use since the days of dial up,  but it's fine because I'm being patient and I wish to sit in the cool evening air and blog on the balcony.

I leave it booting up and pour my drink.

Lovely, it's loaded by the time I get back.  I open up blogger to a page I don't even recognise - I need to login - aaahh that could be a problem as I don't remember doing that for many years.

Ignoring the fact that my desktop is just a couple of feet away I persevere and log in to google, it recognises me and gets into blogger that way.

Now we move on to the updates that the antivirus trying to do, and the fact that Dropbox is probably 6 months out of date, and that's a whole lot of files to update.

I sit and watch the web page trying to load, racking my brain as I used to when this was my only computer as to WHY the hell it is so slow.  Even moving between tabs is painful!

I stop to look at the warning from Google about the unexpected sign in from a different device.

I finally get into blogger,  I wade through the updates and notices about European data laws and click 'New Post'

I have an empty glass.

I start writing and google tells me that chrome needs reinstalling - so does my vodka!

I can't remember what I was planning on writing, but it's nice to be sat on the balcony, although one of my neighbours is smoking and it's a bit annoying that it still smells nice to me!

Well, that was a productive hour - I think I'll go and do the updates that my laptop is begging for, you never know I may be back again soon!

Random sunset photo from January that happened to be in Dropbox!

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Dear Leo - Now you are 9

Happy 9th birthday gorgeous boy!

For the last 8 years I have written you a letter and published it on my blog, on your birthday. This year it seems a bit silly to do it as I've not blogged for a long time yet on the other hand it seems wrong to break the tradition.

So instead I will not publish your birthday letter,  it's for you after all and not the world.
I know one day you might not thank me for all the times you've been mentioned on here, I hope you'll forgive me!  Just be thankful that I at least thought it through a little bit and I never put on photos on you in the bath!

Of course I have no need to wish you a happy birthday online as I will do doing so in that crazy thing we call real life but as you have grown up with this blog I couldn't let it go!

Love you Leo mou!

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Ayios Saranta, The Church in the Hill

Many years ago I saw some photos online of a small church built into the rock somewhere in Protaras, I'd often wondered exactly where it was and finding it has been on my 'to do' list for ages.  Walking has never really been our 'thing' especially with several years toddlers or pushchairs and the fact they don't mix well with exploring, but now the boys are bigger it's a lot easier to go 'adventuring'.

After our successful geocaching day earlier this month, I decided to give it another go and started searching for our next geocache and was pleased to discover one very close to the church, making it very easy to find. 

We ended up going with Sam and the kids, who knew where it was anyway and was surprised to find out we'd only been a very short distance from it when we went out last time!

Church in the hill, Protaras

Church in the hill, Protaras

It's a fascinating little place and while it's only a few minutes drive from Protaras and Ayia Napa it feels like it is in the middle of nowhere once you are there. 

I didn't know anything about the church until I googled the name of the geocache,   it is called Ayios Saranta,  which translates to Saint Forty but there is very little information I could find. 
It seems that the cave has been a place of worship from the earliest centuries of Christianity, according to website Ring of Christ, and there was a large number of bones found were believed to be those of 40 early Christian martyrs. 

The church has even made it onto a list of The quirkiest churches in the world which is great,  I agree it is so unusual, and even more unlikely that this tiny church nestled in the hills in Cyprus could be listed with so many from all around the world. 

Inside are several icons, and candles lit in memory of loved ones, we had arrived at the same time as a Cypriot family carrying candles, so had waited for them to leave the church before we entered.

Although I am not a religious person it was great to finally find the church and was amazing to think that it has been there unchanged for so many years,  not to mention the amazing views of course.

As it turns out the geocache wasn't really worth finding,  other than to be able to cross it off the list.  It was broken and the log book was soaked and covered in slugs, but as we left the church and started walking we found something even better...

We found a cave!

With two Minecraft loving boys, you can imagine how excited they were to be in a cave in real life. They even 'crafted' axes and mined some more. 

A very successful day of exploring and adventuring!

The Magic of Artificial Boxwoods and Why Your Office Needs Them *Guest Post*

Guest Post by

Are you looking to redecorate your office space? Then the artificial boxwoods are just what you need to create the perfect landscape in both indoor and outdoor areas of your office. These magical landscaping products have lush green leaves, are unbelievably realistic looking and are available in different shapes, patterns, and sizes. Manufactured to resemble the real boxwood shrubs identically, the faux boxwood plants and hedges also have 1.5 to 5 centimetre long leaves just like the real plant. Here’s why your office totally needs these gorgeous landscaping products:

They Are Easy To Maintain and Provide Care To

One excellent benefit of these realistic and beautifully manufactured artificial boxwoods is that these landscaping products are very easy to provide care to. Unlike the real boxwood plants that require tropical or subtropical climates, strong sunlight, regular watering, and fertilization, the faux boxwoods require no such maintenance and special weather conditions. The artificial landscaping products can be kept clean and fresh with a single spray of water, or even a wet duster is good enough to keep them looking brand new and lush green.

They Can Be Installed In Several Different Settings

Another excellent benefit of the artificial boxwood hedges is that these plants can be installed in a vast range of both indoor and outdoor settings, making them the perfect decorative product for your office. Here’s a list of office as well as other residential and commercial spaces that these landscaping products can be installed in:

  • Office building, office lobby, office cabins, meeting rooms, conference rooms, office building parking lots, office terraces and office gardens are also spaces where the plants can be installed in.

  • Hotel lobbies, hotel parking areas, hotel gardens, hotel rooms, restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, pubs, and lounges can be given a nice tropical vibe with the installation of the plant

  • Apartments, villas, bungalows, public gardens, government buildings, hospitals and old age homes can be given a vibrant and lush green vibe with the installation of the faux boxwood hedges.

PermaLeaf® Technology Used To Make the Landscaping Products Weather Proof

At the time of manufacturing of these artificial boxwood plants and hedges, a special technology called the PermaLeaf® technology is used to ensure that the finished products are weatherproof. Special UV stabilizers are impregnated into the raw materials of the faux plants that keep these plants protected from the harsh rays of the sun. The leaves of the boxwoods will not fade when exposed to excessive sunlight. Further, the high-quality colour pigments used in the leaves of the plants ensure that the boxwoods stay lush green for years on end without losing their colour.

ThermaLeaf® Technology for Fire Retardant Plants

People are often apprehensive about installing artificial boxwoods in and around their office spaces because artificial landscaping products have the reputation of being susceptible to fires. No one would be ready to take the risk of installing products in an office space that may lead to fires and destruction of the surroundings and maybe even causalities. However, in the case of these artificial boxwood hedges, you need not worry about your office going up in flames. A special technology called the ThermaLeaf® technology is used at the time of manufacturing, and this technology makes the boxwoods fire retardant. Fire retardant chemicals are impregnated with the raw materials of the boxwoods that guarantee the safety and security of your office.

Affordable And Cost Effective

Redecorating an office that is very large in size can prove to be a costly ordeal. Installing real plants in the landscape area can further increase your monthly costs because real plants will require you to hire a professional gardener to provide maintenance. In the case of the faux boxwood hedges, you need not worry about additional expenses. Also, the artificial boxwoods are very affordably priced and thus can be purchased in large numbers to fill up and decorate office spaces of enormous sizes.

Sturdy, Durable and Long Lasting

Another excellent benefit of these ambience plants is that they are very long lasting and durable. Unlike several competitors’ products that are available in the market, the artificial boxwood hedges do not spoil or deteriorate over time. These landscaping products can last for years and years on end without breaking, ruining, fade or deteriorating. Further, the boxwoods can be used and re-used as per requirement. When not in use, the artificial landscaping products can be stored away without any hassles and will remain intact even in proper storage conditions.

Lightweight and Easy To Install

Even though the artificial boxwood hedges are very durable and long-lasting, these landscaping products are not heavy. They are lightweight, and this feature makes them very easy to move from one space to another and makes the installation process also quick and hassle-free. You do not need to hire labourers and landscape artists to install these boxwoods in your office, a single person or two people are more than enough to get the landscape in place.

Can Be Placed To Provide Privacy in the Office

The boxwood screens are very tall in height. These screens can be used to provide privacy in the office. Cabins can be covered with the boxwood screens to maintain the privacy of the cabin owner. The screens can be used for partition between two cabins, or can also be used as a partition screen for the conference room or meeting room in the office.

For all of you out there who are looking to revamp your office space, the boxwood hedges and other landscaping products are highly recommended. Not only are these products affordable but also they can last for years on end without spoiling. The lush green leaves of the boxwoods have proven to show more productivity and creativity to employees and staff members. So, place your order today and redecorate your office in ways you could not imagine.

Give your office a magical, mystical and enchanting vibe with these gorgeous boxwoods. Leave customers and clients amazed at your office landscape!

Thursday, 18 January 2018

The one with the massive flashback

Facebook drives me mad a lot of the time, not mad enough to not live on it constantly of course (It's not that I *want* too, I HAVE to because of my work, well that and I'm far too nosy not to!)  It's full of rubbish a lot of the time, but also lots of little gems, funny things and random links that are a major time suck but so addictive.

Every now and again though it throws up a gem, or in this case inspiration for a blog post...

Recently I saw a link to an 80's nostalgia website and this particular post was all about the 'Come and Praise' hymn book that surely every 80s kid held in their grubby little hands once upon a time.

(I couldn't find the original post, so I'm making my own!)

We used this book every morning in assembly throughout my primary school years. They were kept in a box and handed out at the door as we left the classroom to go to the 'Big Hall' for assembly.  There were many very battered copies in the box and a few brand new shiny ones. It was always a bit of a 'thing' to get one of the new ones!

I searched for 'Come and Praise' on youtube and was instantly transported back to those days,  sat cross-legged on the floor, or in later years having the privilege of sitting on actual chairs at the back of the hall - in the 4th year (year 6 for all you young ones out there!)  or in the 3rd year when the older ones were out.   Listening to whichever teacher was playing the piano to accompany our dulcet tones.

(Do schools still have pianos?  I'm guessing not,  maybe an ipod?!)

We never sung all of the hymns in there, I remember different teachers used to have their own favourites and you could usually guess which one we'd be singing by who was taking assembly.

I loved singing along with my favourites until I realised it was more 'cool' not to sing, and then instead you'd just mumble along, enough to not get told off for not singing if spotted by a teacher!

We never thought about the words particularly (well, not always but more on that in a moment) and it would possibly be too religious for schools these days?  I have no idea having nothing to do with UK primary schools since 1989!

I don't think our school wasn't a religious school as such, although thinking back we did have the local vicar come in quite often with his guitar!

Here are a few 'classics' that I came across on youtube,  I was surprised at how many of the words I could remember as they played.

Autumn Leaves

Autumn days, when the grass is jewelled
and the silk inside a chestnut shell
Jet planes waiting in the air to be refuelled
All these things I love so well
No, I mustn't forget,
No, I mustn't forget,
To say a great big thank you
I mustn't forget

One More Step Along The World I Go

One more step along the world I go
One more step along the world I go
One more step along the world I go
From the old things to the new
Keep me travelling along with you

Cross Over The Road

Cross over the road my friend
Ask the Lord his strength to lend
His compassion has no end
Cross over the road

When I Needed a Neighbour

When you needed a neighbour
where you there, where you there?
When you needed a neighbour
Where you there?

(I most remember everyone always sniggering at the line 'I was cold I was naked'   and I think in the end they actually told us we had to skip that verse, I have a feeling that everyone 'forgot' and in the end we were not allowed to sing this hymn!)

When a Knight Won His Spurs

When a Knight Won His Spurs in the stories of old
he was gentle and brave, he was gallant and bold
With a shield on his arm and a lance in his hand
For God and for valour he rode through the land.

My main memory of this is actually the poem by Allan Ahlberg which went to the same tune and changed out some of the lyrics to a teacher interupting her singing to tell off the class.

When a Knight Won His Spurs in the stories of old, he was 'FACE THE FRONT DAVID BRIGGS, WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN TOLD' 

Give Me Oil In My Lamp

Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning,
Give me oil in my lamp I pray,
Give me oil in my lamp keep me burning,
Keep me burning till the break of day

I remember everyone singing the 'Sing Hosan -NA' bits really loudly and stressing the ending, antoher thing that drove the teachers mad!

Of course there were more,
Morning has Broken,  never did like that one much,
Lord of The Dance - can't remember how much I liked it at the time but I like it now!  I loved Michael Flatley's (he of the independantly flailing legs) Lord Of The Dance so they kind of changed it a lot for me.
Kumbayah My Lord - what does that even mean?!  (ok, just googled it, it means 'Come by Here)
All Things Bright and Beautiful

Were you a child of the 80s? Let me know your favourite or tell me any classics I missed!

Rocketship Education Aids The Development Of Both Parents And Students

The rise of charter schools in the U.S. has largely been a response to the continuing state of the public school system across much of the country as overworked educators struggle to work with falling budgets and standards. Despite the higher standards and educators specializing in many individual areas of research such as STEM, the sciences, and humanities, charter school Rocketship Education reveals the close community which forms across the student body, faculty, and parents; the families of students at the San Jose Rocketship Education facility have recently seen aid given to them when catastrophic flooding struck the city and caused major problems for many.

One of the major areas of misunderstanding the public has when it comes to charter schools is the sense that charter schools are solely for the rich and privileged. In fact, Rocketship Education largely brings students through its doors from low-income families across three states and Washington D.C. in a bid to make sure every child has a chance of achieving success regardless of their background. To make sure the needs and challenges of each child are addressed the educators from Rocketship Education are required by the school to visit the home and family of a student periodically to make sure they understand how best to aid the development of the entire family unit.

The concept of Rocketship Education is to do more than simply develop better-equipped students at the elementary level but also to make sure parents are given the drive and appeal to push forward their children as they move through the educational system in the U.S. Established in 2006 by former public school educators, Rocketship Education has become one of the leading resources for developing parents who are now moving on with their children and attempting to create charter schools to continue the education of students as they move out of the Rocketship Education elementary school period. The main mission of the charter school system is to develop a new and exciting way of closing the education gap between rich and poor through the use of technology and highly-skilled educators.

Monday, 8 January 2018

Geocaching Day

It's been a long time since we went geocaching, maybe even a whole year but on Tuesday 2nd Jan I suddenly decided to download the app again and planned to go out with the boys the following day.

They were excited about the idea, especially after our recent 'adventuring' walk and even more so when it rained so much first thing in the morning ensuring there would be plenty of puddles to jump in!

In an unexpected coincidence, it turns out that it was 2 years to the day since we had found our first geocache, so I jokingly announced it was 'Geocaching Day' which impressed the boys even more.

There are many geocaches in the area we'd like to go and find but I thought we'd head to Protaras today, firstly because the boys enjoy the 'off road' ones more than the ones hidden in more busy areas as they get to run, play and explore, and on a day like today to jump in muddy puddles!  There are 8 geocaches in a reasonably small area in the hills of Protaras so I thought it a good place to head to, figuring we've got more chance of finding at least one.

It didn't start well as we couldn't find the first one despite the app taking us straight to where it seemed like it should be.  Once we start looking in a specific area the boys tend to have limited patience if we don't locate it quickly. They hate to leave without finding it, especially Leo but with others so close they were happy to carry on.

I was unsure if it would be possible for the boys to happily walk around all of them, given that we would more than likely end up going out of our way a few times and still have to walk back to the car, so we drove a little further, closer to the second and third on our list.

We found it without too much trouble, signed the book and took a little blue shell as our treasure, leaving a small black cat figurine in its place.

Onwards and upwards to the next coordinates and as we passed a gazebo, at Loukas request we stopped for a quick rest and a snack.

The next cache, called 'Leapin Lizards' sounded quite interesting and we found it easily once we spotted a pile of rocks which looked a little different.  It was an unusual container, to say the least!

Louka was a bit scared at first, and I have to admit it did look quite realistic hidden in the rocks, but a poke with a stick soon meant they were happy to pick it up!

This time we left a little Playmobil toy treasure map and took a Russian coin in exchange as well as signing the logbook.

It suddenly started to rain heavily so we ran back to the gazebo for cover. Luckily it only lasted a few minutes.

At this point we decided to retreat and head home, the sky was starting to look very dark and I wasn't thrilled about the idea of getting stuck in the middle of nowhere in the pouring rain and driving down random unmade muddy roads with no real idea where I was going!

It was a successful trip though, 2 out of 3 ain't bad!

If you are looking at trying geocaching, you can find out how on the official geocaching website, although we use the C:Geo app from the Google play store (not a sponsored post, just preempting the question!)

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