Monday, 29 November 2010

The Gallery - Celebrations

There is a possibility that some in  my situation would find this weeks Gallery prompt a little tricky.  Given that I have recently blogged about my wedding, Leo's Christening, and my birthday, not to mention a whole year in Cyprus and Leo's birthday, you would be forgiven for thinking that I'd run out of celebrations to write about.

This is me though and for those that know AJ and I, you will know that we never need a reason to celebrate. I have been going through old photos - (a most enjoyable pastime of mine!) and have still managed to change my mind several times. I've still got so many to choose from so I thought I'd go festive.

This was taken on Christmas Eve back in 2005. A group of us, pre-babies had decided to go out in our local town and thought we'd dress up just for the hell of it!
Note that AJ (the biggest fancy dress fan EVER) still manages to be different!)

We certainly made an entrance as we all walked into the pub.....

Santa Claus is coming to town!
It was a brilliant night,  back in the day Christmas Eve was for drinking and partying and not for helping the real Santa deliver his presents to our little ones.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

What a difference a year makes.....

This post was published way back in 2010 but I'm sharing it again Jenny & Lauren's Flashback Friday

This time last year it was our third day  in our new home,  and our apartment looked like this....

Our bedroom!

We were very lucky that are stuff arrived so fast, as we only had the contents of 3 suitcases which is not that helpful when you have a 6 month old baby. Also in the container of our things was Leo's cot, hence why he spent his first night in Cyprus like this....

He seemed slightly confused when he woke up but not too bothered! 

Unpacking didn't take too long, although a year later I'm still occasionally moving things about that weren't quite right. I think we settled in reasonably quickly considering we didn't just move a few miles down the road. We were very lucky in meeting people very quickly, and in the fact that AJ joined the local pool team straight away helped this as well. 

The first few month were strange, especially for me once AJ started work, I didn't have a car to start with and the weather wasn't always great for walking around aimlessly.  It seemed strange that there was an empty apartment waiting for my parents and it seemed a lifetime until they would arrive. 

But, it didn't take long in the scheme of things to become home. The sun came out, and it got warm - much harder (not impossible but harder) to be unhappy when it's lovely and warm outside. I started to meet even more people and have a few things to do during the days. I also got used to looking after Leo on my own and doing my own housework again (there's big advantages to living with your parents for a year!)

It's been an interesting year, sometimes great, sometimes hard but overall a good one I think. I don't have any desire to go back to the UK, and I am one of the few people out here who doesn't call the UK home. It will always be the place I grew up and I will at some point go back for another visit ( although I feel no need to rush back!)  but Cyprus is now my home and we have no plans to live anywhere else. 

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

The Gallery - Black and White

I loved seeing all the posts on last weeks Gallery so this week I thought I'd  continue in a similar vein but using the prompt for this week which is Black and White.

I give you two generations of happy families.....

and jumping forward about 30 years (30 did that happen!)......

Monday, 22 November 2010

What's the secret to sleep?

I need a plan, I need a plan so we can get some more sleep. I will Google a solution in a minute, but first I will have a little rant and share with my lovely readers....lots of whom are Mums of various age children and might just give me some useful advice.

Leo does not sleep through the night, he did for a while but that seems like a distant memory right now. As a small baby he went to bed at 7pm, fed like clockwork at 11pm, 3am then waking at 7am - perfect. At that time I admit I did slightly look forward to the days when he would drop the 3am feed, now I wish we were still on that routine as it was better than were we are 18 months down the line.

Where did I go wrong? I'm fairly sure I know, the question is how the hell do I get out of this?

By the time he was 6 months old he was sleeping through some nights, he usually still had an 11pm ish bottle but that was fine. Then we had some time staying with friends before our move to Cyprus. He was teething and unsettled and I was worried about waking the household up, so I sat with him in the night, gave him more milk, whatever I thought might keep him quiet and go back to sleep.

Then we moved, it was new, unsettling (for me maybe more than him!) he learnt to sit up and would cry until someone laid him back down. No problem, that was a phase which passed.

He had a cold, more teeth, no blackout blinds and a host of random things which occurred between November and May which I understood would cause problems.  Wait till he's one I said, then we'll cut the bottles, and he'll sleep all night and all will be well.

His birthday came and went straight into a fever, mosquito bites and room temperatures of 35 degrees at night.

So, now what do I do?

He wakes at least 3 times in the night, sometimes he will have a drink and go straight back to sleep, sometimes he's stuck his leg through the bars but more often than not there is no obvious reason.  The last two nights have been the worst, he will scream and scream until he is picked up and start again as soon as you put him down unless he is already fast asleep.

I'm off now to Google "controlled crying" (from what I've seen it appears to be controversial but anything is worth a shot right now) and then I'm going to bed....and it's only 9pm.

At one week old, back in the day when we all got sleep!

Do your children sleep well? Any suggestions?  I'll be forever grateful, once I've caught up on some sleep that is!

Friday, 19 November 2010

Lady in Red (and white)

One of this weeks Writing workshop prompts is Red - something this colour inspires in you. If you saw my recent Gallery entry for the same prompt you will already know what this colour means to me.

20th August 2004
6.30am.  I woke up in the spare room at my parents house and thought 'wow I'm getting married today....'

I managed a little more sleep, conscious of the fact it was probably going to be  long day. My bridesmaid Sarah and I went to the shop for a chance to smoke so early in the morning without my Mum telling me off for breakfast supplies. Dad was in charge of bacon rolls while the rest of us decided on a plan for use of the bathroom!

The hairdresser was late, so late I was getting a bit concerned, I rang and she had the wrong address. I was hugely worried I'd have to wear my hair down but she made it in the end. Apart from that the morning had been very peaceful, I was calm but very excited, Sarah on the other hand was terrified!

The cars arrived and my driver told me the traffic was bad and we'd have to hurry, bridesmaids and Mum left and Dad and I scurried out after them. The journey was surreal, a journey I made every day on my way to work but it somehow looked different. I was quiet, trying to start savouring every moment of the day. Dad and the driver were talking about ships and submarines and this made me smile as it was so normal (and it meant I didn't have to speak!)

It annoyed me at the time when we arrived and was EARLY!  Guests were still going inside and I had my one "Bride moment"  and screeched "They are not supposed to see me yet!"  I later found out that AJ was standing just inside and was bundled through the kitchens to avoid seeing me.

We got out of the car and the photographer came over, he asked us to pose and I let the train of my dress fall to the floor straight into a puddle, I was so annoyed that I hadn't looked - I had to at least get to the aisle without trashing it! (luckily it was underneath the train and not noticeable)

Looking back it was very apt that I was early, as Dad and I are never late for anything if we can help it, it might be traditional for the bride to be late but that's just not me!

I  saw 2 of my very best friends as I entered the hotel, and that was the best thing that could have happened, it made me laugh as they were running through reception in a panic to get there on time (again, very typical!) and it really chilled me out.

Dad walked me down the aisle to a pan pipe version of Elvis' Can't Help Falling in Love, Dad had to slow me down as I was walking too fast, turns out practising as a child with a net curtain over my head hadn't really helped!

It was strange to see so many familiar faces and not to be able to speak to them, my hands were shaking so much I could hardly hold my flowers. The ceremony was fairly short and relaxed and almost went without a hitch... the registrar pronounced AJs name wrong during the vows!

The meal was lovely, and I was more than ready for it I remember that much. I had been told I'd be far to nervous/excited etc. to eat but nothing stops me from being hungry! The speeches were a definite highlight for me, you can read AJ's here. 

We had more guests arrive for the evening reception, and I loved every minute of it, it was a great party and there were people on the dance floor from beginning to end. Our first dance was to Elvis Presley "Can't Help Falling in Love", we considered The Timewarp (See why here) but chose to do that later instead.

I loved every minute of my wedding and I would love to do it all over again, same man, but smaller dress!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

The Gallery - Before and After

When I saw this weeks Gallery prompt I may have had a little moan at the timing of it, the prompt was "Before and After" For the last few years I've often shown my before and after pictures but I used them both in  my Slimming World post.

So I got thinking and when that didn't help I started browsing through my old pictures and came up with my gorgeous dogs.  Well, I say mine but they were both working police dogs - a fact I was often reminded of as a child when I tried to teach them pointless tricks or ask to walk them. 

Traka, (the black one) was my Dad's 3rd police dog, as he approached retirement (the dog, not my Dad!) Dad was allocated a puppy to train as his successor. This was way back in 1994 and I was beside myself with excitement when he brought the little ball of fluff that was Acer home.

After Acer had his training, Traka retired and we got to keep him as a pet dog. (and I got to finally take a dog for a walk on my own!) He was a little confused  initially seeing this young bouncy thing going off with his Dad every day but settled into the retirement well and had another good couple of years with us. 

It could have been quite a handful with two fully grown German shepherds in the house but they were well behaved and got on very well. After Traka passed away I think it took Acer a while to get used to being the only one. Till the end of his days he always left a little bit of his dinner which I think must have been for Traka as from the beginning he always used to sneak in and finish it off!

There's some great Gallery entries this week, why not pop over to Sticky Fingers and have a look.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

I'm a Stylish blogger!

 I feel very privileged to have received another award, this time from a fellow blogger in Cyprus - Vanja from Emma's Lunch, and I must say what a lovely name she chose for her daughter!

Rules for accepting this award are: 
1. Thank & link back to the person who awarded you this.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Pay it forward to 15 recently discovered great bloggers.

4. Contact those bloggers and tell them about their award.

So, here's seven (fairly random) things about me.....

1. I have had 11 different jobs, I think it's 11, although I may have forgotten about one or 2 along the way!
2. I have had my poetry published in a book.
3. I have had a tattoo designed for me, which I will soon be having done.
4. I shouldn't buy Chocolate Spread as I always end up eating it straight out the jar.
5. My favourite film, and I have no idea why is Towering Inferno!
6. I have just applied to start Greek Lessons in the new year. 
7. I would love to have my own Party / fancy dress shop.

I would like to pass this award to the following great blogs....

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

A tale of two Autumns

I took this photo two years ago, in October. We were away for the weekend on my in-laws narrow boat and I was thrilled to have good weather.  There lies  my problem with Autumn, in theory it's a gorgeous season, the sun low in the sky, streaming through the trees, piles of fallen leaves looking all pretty. In reality though I usually found it was cold, probably wet and often that really fine drizzle where you get soaked to the skin. I know, I am very fussy with my weather! I've never been the type to really embrace anything other than "good weather" when it comes to the great outdoors.

So, I am now glad to be out and about in the autumn. The days are lovely here now, warm enough to enjoy in a t-shirt and cool enough that you can go out walking and not want to collapse in a heap after five minutes.It also means we have the beaches to ourselves now the tourists have gone home. 

This post was written for this weeks Gallery entry over at Sticky Fingers.The prompt this week was Seasons. Why not pop over and have a look at all the gorgeous photos.

Monday, 8 November 2010

The best thing I ever did.... Part 2

I joined my local Slimming World in 2006 (see how that all came about here) On my first weigh in I was 15st 1.5lb and stunned! I didn't used to weigh myself, always saying things like "It's just  number, it's what you look/feel like that matters" and various rubbish like that. So it did come as a bit of a surprise to say the least, I had been expecting 13st something.

Oh well, I thought let's just give it a shot and see what happens......
I listened to the group and picked up the literature and off I went. It took a while to understand it, lots of people due struggle with the concept as there really are no "banned" foods. Not only that but the list of "free foods" (things you can eat as much as you want too) is very long, and depending on what 'day' of the plan you are following includes either pasta, potatoes and rice or lean meat and bacon!

I really didn't expect amazing results but was pleased to lose 3lb in my first week, so the next week I did it again, and again and again. I plodded along quite merrily week after week and in just over a year I lost 4st.... (sorry for the bold and italics, it's just that it's four years later now and I'm still amazed!)

It was not as easy as sitting on my (large) backside and eating cake, but it was nowhere near as hard as  I would have imagined. I did a bit of exercise along the way but pretty much just followed the plan. I had the odd day or weekend off here and there, and went on an all-inclusive holiday and went mad for 2 weeks in the time I was there but pretty much I just got right back on track.

Martyn, my consultant was a star and I don't think I could have done it without him. I loved going to the group, they were such a friendly bunch and we really helped each other along the way. My Dad lost 2.5st and reached his target weight as well.

I'm very passionate about Slimming world and have been often known to go off on one when it comes up in conversation, people who say it doesn't work, or they can't lose weight.........OH MY GOD, if I can  ANYONE can.

On Honeymoon in 2004
My Birthday - 2007

I realise it could sound like it, but this is NOT a sponsored post, I just think Slimming World is brilliant!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

The best thing I ever did.... Part 1

This is a post I have been meaning to write for some time, it is about the best thing I ever did so I was trying to think of the best way to do it justice, I've pondered for some time but have come up with no brilliant ideas so I thought I'd just get on with it!

Let me take you back to early 2006.....
My Dad said to me one day "Guess what I'm doing tomorrow night? I looked at him blankly, he replied "Going to Slimming World"  Well to say I was surprised is an understatement, 
1.My Dad is (and I'm sure he won't mind we saying so, although to be fair he is getting better!) the fussiest person with food I know and I assumed that "going on a diet" would mean eating things that he would want to. 
2. At the risk of sounding completely sexist, he's a man and men generally don't do slimming clubs (so I thought)
3. I didn't think he really needed to lose much weight, ok maybe a pound or two if he wanted to but not the amount I would have expected someone to join a club for. 

It had come about  whilst talking to his neighbour who had decided to go along at the start of January, in a moment of madness Dad agreed to go with him.  He told me roughly how it works and what you can and can't eat (that's nothing by the way, EVERYTHING is fine in moderation) and I was quite surprised. 

I went away thinking about all this and felt a bit panicked to be honest, what if it actually worked and he lost weight,  when it was me who needed to more than anyone. I had thought in passing over the years about going on a diet but "I wasn't fat, I was big boned"  yes dear readers it is true - if you say something often enough you do believe it.

I was fat, there is no point faffing about, I had always been bigger than most of my friends and it was slowly but surely getting worse. I had been 12 stone at the age of 12, and by the age of 28 I was usually buying size 20 clothes.  I genuinely thought though that I couldn't do a lot about it. 

You know the BMI charts, the ones that you plot your height and weight and it tells you that you are about to die, I looked at one of those and it said I needed to lose 4 stone....4 STONE, how stupid I thought there's no way I could lose that much without cutting off a leg or something equally drastic.  My BMI was 32 by the way, recommended is between 20 and 25.

But despite the fact I thought I would never be a perfect size I thought I'd give it a go, maybe I could actually lose a couple of pounds or something and perhaps even drop a dress size.

Me in 2004 pre Slimming World
 So in January 2006, I went to join my local Slimming World, more for something to do than anything else, I thought at least if I go and it doesn't work then I've tried and can continue being overweight in the knowledge that it is not my fault.

If you saw my recent post "A photo I'm proud of" you will know how this story ends but check back soon for details of how I got to that point.

Edit - Read part 2 here

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

The Gallery - Show me the funny

This weeks Gallery was very tricky, yes I do realise I often say that but the problem this week was slightly different. You see the prompt was "Show me the funny" as usual I have a whole host of photos I could use, and a hundred funny stories to go with them.  When you have been to the amount of adult only Butlins weekends as we have and held as many parties with our mad bunch of friends it's inevitable really.

My favourite is a friend of our dancing in his boxer shorts at a fancy dress party we had, holding a bottle of champagne in one hand. I also have a whole series of photos taken over a couple of years of a friend posing with cleaning cones - it turned into a tradition every time we went away! I could go on and on. The reason I haven't used them is the fact that although I may be in a different country now but I think those involved may jump on a plane and come and slap me round the head.

Instead I give you....

These were taken back in March when 3 of our very good friends came to see us, they were staying in an apartment downstairs and the girls had popped down during one evening to get something.  One of the boys (probably AJ ) suggested that it would be funny to hide by the lift and surprise them when they came out.

I was ready, as ever with the camera and surprisingly got two photos as I was laughing so much. They were both screamed and for some reason both dived on the floor!

Sorry girls if you read this, but you know I could have found much worse photos!

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