Saturday, 30 July 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful 1,2,3

This week has been a fairly normal week but I appear to be feeling more cheerful than I did last time I joined in with Michelle's Reasons to be Cheerful!

1. Due to the ongoing power cuts (resulting from the recent explosion) Aaron will be finishing work early and be home at 6pm ish rather than 8pm.  It does mean he has to start at 8am instead of 9.30, therefore leaving at 6am but he'll get to see Leo before he goes to bed now which is great.

2. Leo is gradually getting better in the water so I'm going to make sure we get in the pool most days. (He still won't wear armbands at all which is annoying in deep water as I have to hold him constantly and scary in water he can stand in as I have to be right behind him all the time in case he slips over and can't stand himself back up.)  He has started putting his face into the water and jumping in from the side.

3. We have finally got a BBQ after nearly 2 years of living in Cyprus (Thanks, Mum & Dad!)  I love BBQ's and I think we have already used it more that we did our old one in the UK that we had for 3 years!

Click the badge below to visit Mich and see what everyone else is feeling cheerful about this week....

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy From the Heart

Friday, 29 July 2011

Flashback Friday - Beach holiday!

It's Friday, and that means it's time for Flashbacks!

We're going back to the 80's again, to a summer holiday in Minorca which I seem to recall was mainly spent in the pool or at the beach, 

1985 was the year my Dad brought the best inflatable I have ever seen, (which is quite impressive as every shop I go in at the moment has a huge array of different things!) 

How's this for a cool beach toy....  THE HAND!

I don't know where he brought it from and have never seen one since, it certainly made an impression on the beach!  It was the best thing ever and I remember spending hours on it during that holiday. Unlike all other inflatable things we ever had we used to carefully deflate and take it home to use again next year. 

It easily fit both Dad and myself and had a clear 'viewing window' on one of the fingers!

This was taken in Cala Galdana, a short drive from the resort we stayed. We liked it so much that we actually went back and stayed there when I was 16. The slide was great fun, I remember being nervous at first, hence my Dad waiting to catch me even though I'm wearing armbands and holding my hands out to slow me down but by the end of the day I was loving it.

I don't have a clear memory of the entire holiday but we had several Spainish holidays over the years and I have some great memories from all of them - they just often merge into one though!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Alethea's Story - a sad update.

Back in January I learnt of the very sad plight of Alethea Ayres who was trying to raise money to help her in her fight against Malignant Metastic Melanoma, money was raised through the generosity of many and treatment was thought to be going well, the cancer spread to her stomach and unfortunately Alethea lost her battle on the 9th July.

Despite her suffering and the course of gruelling treatment Alethea remained positive to the end, she documented her journey on her blog - Me and Melanoma. and this was an inspiration to many people.  Alethea was well known in Cyprus having set up the website Parenting in Cyprus and being nominated for the Cyprus Business Woman of the Year award.

She also started a campaign to increase maternity leave in Cyprus from 18 weeks to a minimum of 6 months to 1 year. The aim to give mothers a chance to breastfeed until their baby is ready to start solids, I hope others will continue in her work on her behalf, you can help by signing the petition for yourself.

I never met Alethea personally but she was a friend of a friend, and she touched many many lives, I hope she can now rest free from pain. 

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

The Gallery - Vintage

Back in 1999 Aaron went to work in France for 6 months, he returned on my 22nd birthday with a special birthday present for me,  I had my very own personalised bottle of champagne from Reimes, the Champagne region of France. It was in a lovely gift box and came with two gorgeous champagne glasses. It was a lovely present and I put it away safely in its box only to get it out to show it off to people every now and again!

I had it for several years before I even thought about drinking it, this wasn't a difficult thing to do as not only did I decide it had to be a very special occasion, I don't actually like champagne!   I will drink it at said special occasions but only if it is handed to me (well, it would be rude not to!)

In 2003 Aaron and I brought our first house together, the first plan was to drink it the day we moved in, except everything was randomly packed in boxes so we ordered pizza and drank beer.

We got engaged and didn't think about drinking it, we had an engagement party but as we were both drinking our preferred drinks and there were too many guests to be able to give everyone some it got left in its box again.

It was going to be opened on the eve of our wedding for me and my bridesmaids but they don't like champagne either, not only that I felt that Aaron should be there to share it. (he doesn't like it either so I wasn't going to let him get away with it!)

Over the years birthday, Christmases and other special events came and went and still my champagne sat in its posh box untouched. It became bit of a standing joke as to when it would be drunk. We took it on weekends away, to adult weekends with friends at Butlins, and to trips up on the family narrowboat with every intention of drinking it but every time we didn't get round to it, or the moment didn't seem to warrant opening this very special bottle so we carefully brought it back home again.

I got pregnant, and Aaron went out and brought a new bottle of champagne, well I couldn't drink now so it got saved again! Leo was born and it STILL didn't get opened!  Eventually the time came for us to pack up our belongings for our move to Cyprus, it got shipped along with everything else.

We kept it some more, now waiting for my parents to move over so we could drink it together... they got here in March and still we hadn't got round to it!

At the beginning of July, it was my friend Sam's birthday, she had a meal out planned for the day after but on the actual day we invited her round for a birthday tea party. I suddenly and decisively announced we should open the champagne, we had talked about this bottle for years and years and shipped it 3000miles across the world - it was bugging me now and it seemed like a good time to drink it.....

Except it wasn't - Aaron opened it and it did not smell good. My Dad, convinced it would be fine tasted it and almost spat it back into the glass. Turns out it was a good job that none of us actually like drinking the stuff as after all these years it looked and tasted so bad it went straight down the sink!

This week's Gallery theme is Vintage, you can see the other entries by clicking on the badge above.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Flashback Friday - Our last holiday

Four years ago this month Aaron and I had our first holiday in Cyprus!

It was a slightly unusual holiday as we were seeing everything through different eyes than the average tourist was, for our holiday destination was also to be our new home.  We stayed in an apartment (well 2 apartments in total as one flooded and we had to move!) in Kapparis about 10 minutes drive from our apartment.

It was a great holiday and a never to be repeated one! Along with our usual holiday activities,  sunbathing, swimming  eating lots and drinking copious amounts of alcohol, we explored and even went to Ikea! It was very strange thinking that one day (we didn't know exactly when at the time) we would be living here all the time. We had brought our laptop over so we could send back photos to my parents of the area and the apartments being built and there was one thing that will always stick in my mind...

I was sitting at the pool bar checking my emails and facebook and saw a photo from the night before of one of my best friends 30th birthday party, it was all 'my girls' standing in a line, the standard photo that always got taken at every event and I wasn't in it. It did bring a tear to my eye as I realised that soon that would always be the case as I wouldn't be there to join in. I suddenly felt like I was a long long way from home!

It was a very chilled holiday, especially looking back as it was just the two of us and I had a feeling that it would be our last as a couple before the arrival of a little one!

One night we sat on the balcony drinking (lots) playing cards, listening to music and talking about what it would be like living here, we realised it was late/early only when we saw the sun come up!

It seems funny to think that you can almost see my best friends house from the apartment we stayed in!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful 1,2,3

It's been a while (again!) since I've joined in with Michelle's Reasons to be cheerful and although this week I've not been feeling all that cheerful I thought I'd attempt to find reasons to be cheerful where it doesn't seem like there are any!

First of all the main thing is that our family and friends are safe and well and were not badly affected by Monday's explosion at the Evangelos Florakis Naval base  which was a huge disaster for Cyprus. 

We are having twice daily power cuts and will have for maybe up to a year!  We should save a fortune on our electric bill and it means I can't waste as much time on Twitter/Facebook/etc 

Leo has arrived in the 'terrible two's' with a vengeance - but just when I could cheerfully throttle him he does something amazing cute and/or clever and I am (trying) not wishing him to grow up too soon as I know it will happen before I know it really.

It's HOT, HOT, HOT  (I know, I moved to Cyprus, I wanted hot weather and I do honestly but for some reason (maybe no air-con!) this week it is really getting to me) - I hate the rain and cold with a passion, and I can't stand unpredictable weather, it's going to be sunny for months yet so I don't have to try and plan outfits and days out around possible rain!

I have a bad back - umm, I'm struggling to find a decent reason to be cheerful about this one to be honest! Maybe I can get out of sweeping and mopping for a while, that would make me cheerful :)

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy From the Heart

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The Gallery - Travel

Way back as far as I can remember I've wanted to travel, and I've always been fascinated by 'abroad',  from family holidays to Spain to my years working in a Travel Agents I've usually wanted to be 'somewhere else'

Saying that I never wanted to 'go travelling' in the shove your belongings into a backpack and buy a one way ticket. Although I don't insist on 5 star luxury (would be nice but not essential) I do like to ensure I always have  a little more than the very basics! I've been very lucky over the years to have had some great holidays in several destinations, Mexico, Antigua, Cuba, Ibiza, Egypt to name a few. (The travel agent job had some advantages!)  

Of course it wasn't the travelling bit that I liked, it was the bit where you are actually somewhere else, so after buying our one way tickets to Cyprus travel was no longer the first thing on my mind. Leo and I did travel though last year - we went back to the UK for 3 weeks.

When you travel you get to experience lots of new things...

He got to go on a train for the first time (no trains in Cyprus)
Play in a garden with grass!
Play on carpeted floors,
Wear jeans and long sleeve tops in August! 
and be massively unimpressed with the local beach 

I'm looking forward to taking him back when he's a little older and can understand a lot more. There are so many places we want to show him!

Monday, 11 July 2011

Technorati blog claim... please ignore


No Tea & Teletubbies

This morning I woke just before 6am very hot and confused as to why hubby had turned off the fan in our bedroom. It took me a while to realise we had a power cut and I lay in bed sweating in the heat (it was 31 degrees at midnight last night) and worrying about the contents of my freezer.

Leo woke at 6am, an hour earlier than his usual (on good days) wake up time, he was still very sleepy but calling for me and asking for his wind on (what he calls the fan or the air-conditioning) and his juice. Getting him back to sleep was not an option as his room was like a sauna!

We got up and then I remembered just how much we depend on our electricity.... what to do?  First problem.... no tea - not a good start to any day! Second problem explaining to 2 year old that we can't watch 'tubbies' and no can't watch 'Mouse' or Thomas', and it doesn't matter how many programs you name you can't watch any, and nope we can't have the music on either.  I did try to explain but he looked at me intently then said "Hot Mummy, wind on please, Daddy fix it, needs batteries'  :)

Just as we were about to pile into my parents apartment to boil water on the gas ring on their BBQ (and cook a freezer full of meat  for breakfast!) the power came back on. Tea was made, Teletubbies went on and Aaron left for work. It was on his way to work listening to the radio that we discovered that many people had far more important problems than no 'tea and tubbies'

A massive blast had occurred when a store of confiscated Iranian munitions exploded in the Evangelos Florakis Naval base, situated on the coast between Larnaca and Limassol. The blast killed 12 people and injured many more, it also took out one of the islands main power stations leaving most of Southern Cyprus with no power.
Image credit: Cyprus Mail
For more on the story see BBC News or the Cyprus Mail

It was quite hard at first to find more information, Sky World News mentioned it briefly then moved back onto the phone hacking scandal and at first BBC World were not mentioning it at all. Obviously the local channels all had rolling news coverage but my Greek learning has not quite reached that level of understanding yet! Then I remembered Twitter, and was able to follow updates all day.

It appears that electricity will be rationed across the island due to having lost 50% of its output and different areas will be randomly selected to save power, it should go off for only 2 hour intervals. Water in many areas will be turned ON for 12 hours out of every 48 as the desalination plants are currently also out of action. Everyone is being urged to use as little water and electric as possible and tourists being encouraged to cool off in the sea or pools rather than using their air-con all the time indoors.... not something I can see the average tourist worrying about in heat of 40 degrees plus!

I've read that the island could face shortages for months, that's going to be a hot hot August! We have power at the moment and I've been organised and charged my phone, got water (ours has been off all day so far) and am preparing to eat a very large amount of ice cream when we lose the power again - I'd hate to see it go to waste ;)

*obviously I am being flippant with the title of my post and some of the content - it goes without saying that our inconvenience is nothing compared to those in the immediate area and those who have been injured or lost loved ones.

Friday, 8 July 2011

D is for dancing.... and drinking!

I debated over what to use in this next post in my series of A to Z posts. Originally I thought 'D is for dogs', I've grown up with dogs in my life but have blogged about them before, both my own dog and those I grew up with .
It was a hen night, hence the flowers!

So instead I'm going with another love of mine.... Dancing, oh and drinking as they go together oh so well.

Not 'proper' dancing as in ballroom or ballet but real 'several beers later, singing your head off on the dance floor dancing'
Back in the day when babysitters were not required and Aaron and I used to both go out, at the same time I was usually to be found on the dance floor while he propped up the bar. (He doesn't DO dancing except in fancy dress and then only once) which was actually a great arrangement as it meant it was easy to get another drink :)

I've had many many amazing nights out before Leo came along and it's probably the main thing I miss about my young, free and 'not so single but it doesn't stop a good night out' days.  It's just not the same when you can't spend the following day on the sofa in recovery (known in our house as 'Top Gear Days' due to endless episodes of the program on 'Dave' when neither of us could be bothered to find anything else to watch).

Aaron doesn't understand why I long to dance and drink the night away, (well he gets the drinking bit) in noisy drunken crowds of people and end up eating a greasy burger on a bench at 4am, to be honest nor do I but I remember it being a whole lot of fun!

OK, so it means you look like this but it was a great night!
The photos were taken on what is now referred to as The Last Night Out, it was my friends hen night and a great evening which due to meeting up with the stags at the end of the night and then a small group of us going back to the couple's house afterwards was a very long night! It also happened to be the last night I had out drinking before getting pregnant just a few weeks later, a very good night to end the pre-mummy drinking days on!
( I had done a pregnancy test before going out just in case as I predicted it might be a drunken one!)

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Boys will be boys?

Following on from our recent playdough playtime I decided to create something else to blog about be a good mother and arrange a fun toddler activity.

At a party last year the kids were provided with cornflour goo to play with, Leo was a bit young to be interested and was too busy colouring (one of his favourite things) to want to try it, but I thought now he'd have great fun with it.

Looking slightly bemused!
It's really easy to make, just cornflour, water and a drop of food colouring. What you end up with is a strange  gloopy thing that if you touch quickly feels like it's solid but if you stir or run your hands through slowly becomes a liquid - weird huh!

I showed him what to do and he laughed as I plunged my hand in and let it run through my fingers, (whilst trying to take a photo and not drop my camera in it!) He didn't need much encouragement to get his hands in and laughed for a short while until he realised his hands were now dirty...... I forgot, I have the only boy in the world who doesn't like 'dirty'

Despite my best efforts to persuade him that it was ok and he could play and then we'd wash up afterwards he then didn't want to know! He did however enjoy washing his hands at the sink and then proceeded to spend 15 minutes with a cloth washing the floor,  his future wife will be so pleased!

I'm not sure how his aversion to dirt appeared, we did baby-led weaning for goodness sake, it didn't bother him while he was mushing food into his head!


Messy Play
Update - This post was originally written 2 years ago, and I'm quite ashamed to say I've not done many messy things since. Inspired by Jennie though I'm going to rectify that so look out for some new messy play posts coming soon!

Saturday, 2 July 2011

It's all Greek to me - My first 'proper' conversation!

It's two weeks since I received my Rosetta Stone Greek program  and it's going really well. I have made an effort to spend regular time working through the lessons and I'm loving every minute. Last week I started using the online features which are new to Version 4 and I even took part in an live online session with a native speaker in my first ever 'Studio session'

Included with the software is 3 months subscription to the online features, which include stories and games to play with other learners as well as live online lessons. As you progress through the course more options open up to help you learn in new ways.

I booked my first studio session not really knowing what to expect, and I was a little nervous! The session lasts 50 minutes and it was so much fun the time just flew by. I joined another learner and the online coach Maria and the session ran in a similar way to the standard lessons - various photos are shown on screen and you talk about what you can see in the pictures, the difference being is that it is much more interactive.
Despite living in Cyprus for over 18 months, and attending Greek lessons in the UK it was the most Greek I have ever spoken. As you are interacting with a native speaker all the conversation is in Greek where as when you are talking to someone whose first language is English you tend to automatically revert back to what you know best. 
After my first session , I agree that it is true - the BEST way to learn a language is to immerse yourself in it and just jump right in. My only disappointment with it is the lack of studio sessions available at convenient times for me. It seems that most of the sessions available to book are very late in the evening or in the middle of the night! I managed to get one for 4pm on a Sunday but the next two I have been able to book are 11pm on a Saturday and 4pm on a Sunday two weeks later. 

Despite that I am still looking forward to my next one and it has definitely motivated me to continue working frequently so I will hopefully do a bit better next time!

*This is not a sponsored post, I have been sent the language course to review but have not received any other compensation, the views and opinions are all my own.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Flashback Friday - Heaven & Hell

It's no secret that we love our parties, and especially the fancy dress ones...

Four years ago we had what is alternately referred to as the best and worst party we have ever had  After a couple of very successful parties in a hired hall in a local hotel we decided to pull out all the stops for a birthday party for Aaron. We decided it HAD to be fancy dress and decided to give it a theme.

Heaven & Hell
The cake
So much had been said about the previous parties amongst our crowd of friends at the time that we thought it would be huge, we hired a bigger room, got a DJ and made a ton of food....

Unfortunately along with the fact the some of our 'friends' can be a bit fickle and don't always do what they say they will, the day of the party was the day England got knocked out of the world cup. From the moment we lost the phone did not stop ringing with people telling us they were not coming as they were too depressed/drunk in a pub too far away to travel (WTF? - How were they coming if we'd won!) and many other random reasons.

BUT, forgetting the fact that in a hall which would hold 200 people we only had about 25 and the fact that it had now become a very expensive night out, it was the most brilliant night!

My 'gorgeous' hubby!
My Fallen angel outfit!
Due to the small number of people who were really good friends, and the excellent DJ who read the crowd like a book and played the best music ever we danced like we've never danced before! I have some fantastic photos but sadly most are not suitable for sharing! In fact it was on this night that I have one of my funniest ever photos.... a friend of mine dancing in his boxer shorts (in his defence it was the hottest day of the year and there was no air-conditioning in the room!) holding aloft a bottle of champagne, I don't think he'd appreciate me sharing it with the world though!

Even Aaron danced, and he had always said that 'hell would freeze over before he did' 

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