Monday, 31 October 2011

A scary Halloween!

Living in Cyprus I am very pleased to avoid most of the 'Halloween hype' as I'm not really a fan of 'trick or treating' having never done it as a child and more importantly spending years in the UK trying to avoid the older kids who were only interested in collecting money or 'tricking' (ie destroying stuff), that said it may sound hypocritical but I don't dislike Halloween at all,  after all - a reason to party and to dress up, what's not to love!

Last year I went to my first ever Halloween party, at my friend and fellow party/fancy dress fan Sam's. Halloween is Sam's 'thing' and this year she hosted her now annual Halloween party. (Sorry Sam, we'll be back next year,like it or not!) 

Sam had done a fantastic job with the decorations, all home-made (you tend not to see Halloween things in the shops here) and everyone brought a contribution to the food table.  Aaron and I had made a Ghost Cake and I also made Monster Eyeballs and Severed Fingers

As a kids party, it might not have been the success that we imagined it would be however!  It turns out a couple of the kids were terrified of the adults dressed up (they had been fine last year so we assumed it would be ok!) - oops!

In typical Leo style, he wasn't the least bit phased by the adults wearing very odd things, he looked bemused until I explained who they were and then ran off to play!  He is used to seeing lots of photos of us in various costumes though, he looks at one of Aaron in a full devil costume and says 'oh Daddy, what you wearing  - ah its red devil!) 

Maybe next year we shall leave the dressing up to the kids!

Friday, 28 October 2011

We all love cake!

Last year I told you all about my first Halloween party it was held by my friend Sam and it was great fun. Tomorrow we are going to do it all again so in a tradition we seem to have created for ourselves Aaron and I had a cake to make!

Last year we made a 'Pumpkin cake' and so we've been debating what we could do this year. Aaron suggested a skull but I thought we shouldn't peak too early so we went with his second idea a Ghost cake.

It was a joint family effort as Leo 'helped' me bake the cake and then as usual I handed the decorating over to the arty one.

Leo and I made a simple Victoria sponge mixture but as we needed a lot we tripled the standard recipe.

300g castor sugar
300g butter
6 eggs
300g self raising flour

I usually cream the butter and sugar first, adding the egg then the flour gradually but Leo didn't agree with that method and chucked it all in before I could intervene, including the eggs without cracking them! I retrieved the whole eggs and then I blitzed it all with the whisk.

I cooked 3 cakes, one big one and two smaller ones as that the pans I have, it wouldn't matter what you cook it in as the cake gets broken up anyway.

Once cooled we broke the cake into small pieces and mushed it together with butter cream (that is a technical term when cooking with a toddler). We modelled it into a 'ghost shape'

(Butter cream - 280g butter, 560g icing sugar 4tbsp milk)

Using ready to roll icing Aaron then took over (my patience with rolling that stuff does not last long) and draped it over the cake.

It was quite tricky rolling the icing so it was big enough as it made it quite thin, several times it broke as we tried to get it on the cake. Eventually we rolled it on cling film which made it a lot easier to transfer. Using a small paintbrush and some black food colouring he then painted on the eyes and the mouth.

Now all we have to do is work out how we are going to transport it to the party tomorrow in one piece!

I Love Cake
I'm not the only one who loves cake though - 
Check out Jenny's I Love Cake linky, This month's theme is Halloween.

Flashback Friday -

This time two years ago we were rapidly disappearing under a pile of boxes, we had booked our one way flights and it seemed that every day brought more 'goodbyes' as we gradually got closer to our leaving date. We had spent many months gradually packing our belongings for shipping to Cyprus and my poor parents lost the use of their conservatory for a very long time (and their garage, spare bedroom and hallway!) It was a huge task debating what to take, what to leave and who to give it too or how to sell it, along with trying to work out what we needed for Leo as he was then only 5 months old.

We said goodbye to our things at the end of October and I remember standing on the driveway, in the cold and that horrible drizzly rain as I watched the van with our beloved boxes drive away.  I stood there for a long time watching the now empty road thinking.... 'Oh my god, that's it - it's all gone now'  I could hardly believe that I would next see it all in Cyprus, after 2 years it was actually all going to happen!

I did say a little prayer to myself that it would all reach our new home in one piece, and it did, bar one small dish that got broken - not at all bad in the scheme of things!

Last year I looked back over our first year in Cyprus and said it did now feel like home. Two years on and it's hard to imagine not being here. I do miss my friends but realise that life moves on and you can't always stay as close as you'd like. I have made some fantastic friends here and also know that however long it may when I speak to my 'old' friends it feels like we haven't been apart.

Linked with Cafe Bebe's brilliant Flashback Friday

A bank holiday, and a little bit of history

I have always been interested in many things to do with recent history and among other things the second world war,  particularly what was happening 'at home' whether that was in the UK, France or anywhere else in Europe. What has fascinated me and often left me in awe is the sacrifices people made and how everyday life was affected for everybody.

Today Cyprus celebrates another Bank holiday, but it saddens me that so many British expats here do not even realise that it is, and even if they do they possibly have no idea why it is so. I am making this lovely country my home and so I wish to learn all I can about it's history and people and I think it is important to find out these things.

Today, October 28th is Greek Independance Day, or 'Ohi Day' as it is often known.   It commemorates the day in 1940 when the then Greek prime minister Ioannis Metaxas rejected the ultimatum from Italian dictator Mussolini that the Axis forces should enter and occupy Greece or else face war.

It was alleged that Metaxas replied with single word 'όχι'  ('ohi' meaning 'No) 

On the morning of October 28th the people took to the streets shouting 'ohi' and from 1942 it was celebrated every year as a public holiday in Greece and Cyprus.

The Greek resistance was formed following the invasion and is said to be one of the most effective resistance movements in occupied Europe. It is estimated that 311,000 people, 4.3% of the population were killed, among them 140,000 dying of starvation and almost one million Greeks were left homeless but the bravery of the nation changed the course of the war and also gave the Allies the first land victory of the second world war as Italy's inability to capture Greece enabled the British to win major victories against Mussolini's forces in North Africa.

I found a very informative and interesting post on One man's Blog, here is one story of the resistance...

One of the most touching episodes of the early resistance took place just after the Germans reached the Acropolis on April 27. The Germans ordered the flag guard, Evzone Konstandinos Koukidis, to retire the Greek flag. The Greek soldier obeyed, but when he was done, he wrapped himself in the flag and threw himself off of the plateau where he met his death.

Ohi day is now honoured in both Greece and Cyprus with student and military parades.  When Leo is at school he will be taking part and marching in these parades and I will be pleased that I understand the significance of them.

“Until now we used to say that Greeks fight like heroes. Now we shall say heroes fight like Greeks.”
-Winston Churchill 1941


Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Facing foward

They say you can tell a lot from looking at someone's face but I've never been very good at reading people myself, Aaron is a good 'reader', especially when it comes to me, I suppose the 16 years we have been together help quite a bit there!

This photo was taken on my wedding day just before I left my parents house, and I wonder what he would have thought had he been there at that point.  This is one of my Mum's favourite photos of me from the day.

The process of getting ready had not gone entirely to plan, the hairdresser was late and I although I'd imagine getting dressed in a leisurely fashion with my bridesmaids helping me and then making my 'entrance' as I came down the stairs, it ended up that I jumped into my dress and ran downstairs hoisting it up and asking someone, anyone to zip me up!

The photos felt rushed and I didn't feel entirely comfortable but I do remember this one being taken. The photographer asked me to look into the garden but not smile - I was a bit bemused by this at the time. When I look at this photo I can picture the view from the window and remember it seemed I was looking at it for a long time.  It was the first time I paused for breath and realised that this was it - I was a bride, I was not 6 years old and wearing a net curtain on my head, it was my day and I was about to take a big step forward.

This week's Gallery prompt is Faces.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Music therapy

Once upon a time I listened to music a lot, in the car, at home and even if I had the TV on it would usually be on a music channel during the day. Nowadays due to the protests of a certain little man it's usually restricted to in the car, and even then it has to be 'not big loud Mummy' On the rare occasions I end up indoors on my own, the first thing I do is to turn my ipod on and listen to my favourites.

I miss my music and wish I'd not stopped listening to it so Leo was in the habit of hearing it and might not moan about it so much. Music can do so much for your mood and there are so many songs that really mean something, it drives Aaron mad that I have a story for nearly every song in my collection!

I've been tagged by Real Housewife Lauren to take part in  Mammywoo's Music Therapy which is all about reminding ourselves how much we love our music and sharing the songs which really mean something to us, those whose lyrics could have been written just for us.

The idea is to pick '3 beautiful songs, 3 different bands, 3 sets of lyrics which touch you in anyway you want to show'  There have been many songs over the years that have helped me and if I think about it too much I'll never be able to pick just three, so I'm going with the first three that come to mind.

Lighthouse Family - High

I actually haven't listened to my first choice in years, it's not even on my ipod!  (this will now be rectified very soon).  This song came out while I was living with Aaron in our his first house, I remember sitting in my bedroom (I had my own room which at various points in the on/off relationship years I actually used as a place to sleep!) listening to the radio and this came on.

The lyrics instantly meant a lot to me....

When you're close to tears remember
Some day it'll all be over
One day we're gonna get so high
And though it's darker than December
What's ahead is a different colour
One day we're gonna get so high

And at
The end of the day
remember the days
When we were close to the edge
And we'll wonder how we made it through the night
The end of the day
remember the way
We stayed so close till the end
We'll remember it was me and you

'Cause we are gonna be forever you and me
You will always keep me flying high in the sky of love

Don't you think it's time you started
Doing what we always wanted
One day we're gonna get so high
'Cause even the impossible
is easy when we got each other
One day 'we're gonna get so high

People used to tell me I was stupid to stay there in that house with Aaron, that it was going nowhere and I should move on,  as I sat in my freezing cold bedroom (I will never forget how cold that house was) I smiled to myself and thought eventually, somehow it will all work out.

Lionel Richie - Stuck On You

We had this song on the intro to our wedding video, it was my idea and I don't really know if Aaron agreed because he likes the song, if the lyrics meant as much to him as me or if he didn't really have a preference but I chose it because not only is it a great song, the lyrics are absolutely perfect for us.

Stuck on you
I've got this feeling down
Deep in my soul
That I just can't lose
Guess, I'm on my way
Needed a friend
And the way I feel now I guess
I'll be with you till the end
Guess I'm on my way
Mighty glad you stayed

I'm stuck on you
Been a fool too long I guess
It's time for me to come on home
Guess I'm on my way
So hard to see
That a woman like you could wait
Around for a man like me
Guess I'm on my way
Mighty glad you stayed

Oh, I'm leaving on that midnight train tomorrow
And I know just where I'm going
I've packed up my troubles
And I've thrown them all away
Cause this time little darlin'
I'm coming home to stay

and finally one of my favourite songs of all time, I have blogged about it before, along with my favourite 'Hold On' by Wilson Phillips but I couldn't leave it out of this.

John Parr - St Elmos Fire

This was a song that Aaron downloaded for me, telling me I would love it. He was right but it was only after it had been accidentally playing in the background of the video walkthrough of our apartment that it really meant something to me.

It became the soundtrack to Cyprus and I played it again and again in the lead up to our move. I then didn't hear it for a while but the day Aaron started work I stood in our apartment with a 7 month old baby wondereing what the hell I was supposed to do all day with no car and no friends and put my ipod onto shuffle and this played,  I held Leo and stood on the balcony looking at my 'new horizon' and realised that this was indeed where my future was lying.

Growin' up
You don't see the writin' on the wall
Passin' by
Movin' straight ahead you knew it all
But maybe sometime if you feel the pain
You'll find you're all alone
Everything has changed

Play the game
You know you can't quit until it's won
Soldier on
Only you can do what must be done
You know in some way
You're a lot like me
You're just a prisoner
And you're tryin' to break free

I can see a new horizon
Underneath the blazin' sky
I'll be where the eagle's
Flyin' higher and higher
Gonna be your man in motion
All I need is a pair of wheels
Take me where my future's lyin'
St. Elmo's Fire

Now to tag some fellow bloggers to join in if they wish... 

Discovering Cyprus - Derynia Folkloric Museum

When you step off the tourist trail in Cyprus you realise there are many little hidden gems to be found, one of these is in Derynia, the village where we live.  The Derynia Folkloric Museum is a picturesque old house full of traditional Cypriot items including many household and farming tools.

The museum is run by a friendly local called Varnavas, who grew up in the house and decided to open it up to the public and share his collection of now historic items.  He is happy to tell you lots of interesting information and you can tell he genuinely enjoys sharing his family and countries past with the visitors.  From telling you about all the photos of his large extended family lining the walls to opening up all the cupboards and pulling out  delicate hand made linens and traditional clothing to show you nothing is too much trouble.

It is even possible to get married here at the museum, either in the traditional bedroom or in the courtyard.  I've been to the museum twice now, and I'm sure I'll be back with various visitors of ours in time.

Entrance to the museum is free but donations of any size are very gratefully received, as is a short message in the guest book. There was actually a sign on the wall with (very low) entrance prices but Varnavas told me he forgets to charge and wants people to come and see so the money is not so important!


Friday, 21 October 2011

Flashback Friday -

I was very lucky as a child I got to go on several foreign family holidays over the years. I went to Malta twice as a toddler but the first holiday I have memories from was in the early eighties to Estepona in Spain, although I do wonder how many I'd have if it wasn't for the large amount of photos we have!

I learnt my first foreign word on this holiday which was 'Helados' a very important word for a young child to know as it means 'ice cream'. I remember coming back to the villa one day to find the doorstep so covered in ants it looked completely black!  I remember that my parents forgot to give the villa key back and we realised once back in the UK, I kept that key (Casa 228, yep I can still remember what was written on it!) for years and years as my 'best ever' souvenir.

Most importantly I remember walking through a tunnel (I assume under a road or something) with my Dad after he had had a drink or 3 when he announced he was "a little 'tiddlypoo's"  and he was dancing around and singing - I thought it was brilliant and really funny and remember laughing as my Mum tried to tell him off while he was still singing and pulling faces at me when she turned round!

I know we spent each morning at the beach, before the sand got too hot to walk on and then the afternoons at the pool. It was by the pool that my Dad happened to snap me messing around with a rubber ring... 

Looking at the second picture I remember how the inside of the ring scratched my head as I put it on!

It turns out that this penchant for inflatable head wear runs in the family as last summer I found Leo attempting the same look...

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful 1,2,3

The last few weeks I've not been able to cobble together a post to take part in Michelle's Reason's to be Cheerful linky, in fact I may have struggled to fill a 140 character tweet on the subject!  I decided last week that I would take a leaf out of Michelle's book though and find things to be cheerful about even when it appears there are none... but then...

I got a job!   
Not only did I get a job, I got a good job!   
After Aaron lost his job back in August I started looking for work, the plan had always been for me to do something (had no idea what, I was looking for a flash of inspiration!) but once Leo was in nursery, and we had to wait until we had the cash available to send him - catch 22 I believe!  

As we were both out of work I was now looking for anything at all, but it's very hard. It is the end of the season so many people are now out of work for the winter so the wrong time of year for job hunting. I've not worked here in Cyprus so far and I don't speak enough of the language so far to even hold a conversation let alone use it in work.

I've always heard the phrase 'its not what you know, it's who you know' and that is so true here in Cyprus, yet again word of mouth has helped us out, and I'm now working for Century 21 Cyprus as a property consultant. It's part time, from home and I can pretty much set my own hours - perfect!

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

I've also been over to Michelle's blog - Mummy From the Heart to read her #R2BC post and discovered that she has included me in her list of bloggers which make her cheerful...... *does happy dance around the room*

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Listography - Keyword searches

One of the things that continue to fascinate me about this blogging lark is the not just the amount of readers I have gathered along the way but also the search terms that lead people to my blog.   This weeks Listography asks for our Top 5 Keyword searches so I couldn't resist going to find out what they were.

1. Barney / Barney & friends (and loads more Barney related phrases)  
This is my highest viewed post by far, and it was a previous Listography entry - Top 5 Annoying Kids programes.  It's had over 10,000 more views than anything else!

2. What makes a house a home
The second highest search at the moment, which would take you to my recent post about Leo's new 'Big boy's bedroom'

3. It's all Greek to me / Rosetta Stone (and many Rosetta Stone related terms)
I've been writing about my progress learning Greek and reviewing the Rosetta Stone software.

4. Meniere's Disease
This pleases me, and I hope this post may have helped someone This was written by my Mum who suffers with Menieres disease but copes very well and really tries not to let it affect her life too much.

5.Alethea's story
I first wrote about Alethea Ayres and how she was battling Malignant Metastic Melanoma when her and her family were trying to raise money to send her to Germany for treatment.   Unfortunately I had to write another post when she sadly lost her fight against it some months later

Other popular searches are mainly Cyprus related, but there are some real random ones which make me smile and a couple which intrigue me....

'5 things you can't do on the Isle of Wight'  - really?  Why search for things you CAN'T do?
Drunk people skinny dipping in Agia Napa - Ok, I've been drunk in Agia Napa but I've not been skinny dipping.....yet!
'Can you just move to Cyprus' - yeah why not!
'Get your cape out of the laundry hamper'  ?????
'A matter of a mile and a mole'      erm, what??


Friday, 14 October 2011

Birthday celebrations

What a busy birthday week it's been.... I had a nice birthday 'day' which was mainly filled with cake! It started off with toddler group to which I took fairy cakes, followed by a lovely home-made cake from my Mum and then the arrival of my friend with an armful of doughnuts.

In the evening, my lovely parents babysat and paid for us to go for a meal, we tried a new restaurant which had been recommended to us and had a lovely time. 

Last week I looked back over my childhood birthdays, and on the day itself my Mum wrote about my actual birth day so this week I thought I'd share some memories of a couple in between!

I love any excuse for a celebration and birthdays are a VERY good one so I've had some outstanding (usually) drunken celebrations. From my 18th birthday party where I tried to punch Aaron (and missed!) for getting me a stripper after I had made him promise not to, to a alcohol free weekend on the canal when I was pregnant I have many to choose from. 

One of the best has to be my 25th..... a 'School disco' party just before it became a very popular theme for everything!

Part of the enjoyment of a party for me is the organisation and my friend Larisa and I had great fun planning this one, from the food to the music. We had iced gem and party ring biscuits, loveheart sweets, drumstick lollies and 'flying saucers'  Mini sandwiches with the crusts cut off and cheese and pineapple.  Vodka jelly and ice cream and many more piles of sweet and sickly treats... I'm surprised people were not ill!

We decorated with tons of balloons and a selection of my old school photos around the room, and of course everyone dressed up for the occasion.

It was perfect timing as we were about to move from the house we were living in and had very little furniture so we cleared the whole room and took up the carpet. It gave a perfect dancing space and never have I seen so many people dancing at a party in a house! I have no idea what time the party ended but I do recall doing the conga down the road sometime after midnight - I think it was a good job we were about to move out!

Linking up to Cafe Bebe's fantastic Flashback Friday,  head over to hers to see some more great memories.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Autumn leaves Toddler Craft

I'm slowly getting better at doing more craft activities with Leo. I always imagined I'd be doing all kinds of things but in reality it turned out to be harder than it looked! I've never been known for my patience and this is not helpful when it comes to dealing with toddlers at the best of times, let alone when you add paint, glue and instructions into the mix!

I love the ideas over at Emma's Lunch, and the way the crafts are themed to the seasons so I thought I'd try an autumnal themed craft. My inital plan was to take Leo to the park, something we haven't done for a few months due to the heat, to collect some leaves, but I realised the flaw in the plan as soon as I looked out the window... the trees are all green and the few leaves that are around are the wrong type!

Not to be outdone I printed some leaves to colour in,

I gave Leo just 'autumnal colours' red, brown, yellow and orange, along with a green as he was a bit bemused that trees could be any other colour!  I explained that  leaves change colour and fall off the trees and talked about England and woods and playing in piles of leaves, he listened with a surprising amount of interest!

The following day we went for stage 2 of the plan which also went pretty much to plan.  Before we started I cut the leaves out and added some leaf shape pieces of orange and yellow paper. I then drew a tree trunk and branches on a large sheet of paper, gave Leo some glue and he got sticking.

It went well, I encouraged him to stick them on the branches or on the ground rather than all over the place but mainly let him get on with it, this is usually my problem when it comes to doing things with him - I'm not good at things not being done 'right'.

We stuck the finished tree on the fridge and he was ever so pleased with his creation, the next day he wanted to do more so we added a few more leaves and he did some colouring on it, I tried to persuade him to just stick but then realised it was his picture and it didn't really matter, especially as I'd already taken a photo!.... I did only give him the 'right' colours to use though!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

My Birth-day!

Today is my birthday so I thought it would be a good idea to ask my Mum to share her memories of my arrival while I turn the computer off and go and eat a lot of cake :)

Our daughter, Emma Joanne was born on Tuesday 11th October 1977, at 11.10 am. (which was a coincidence) weighing 8 lbs.9 ¾ oz. (3.9 kilos). Being born on a Tuesday was apt, as Tuesday's Child if full of Grace - my Mum's name.

Emma was delivered by Dr. Barnard, nephew of the heart surgeon, Christian Barnard, by Caesarean Section. I had undertaken fertility treatment, so we were extra lucky to have Emma.

As proud parents Nick and I left the hospital on Thursday 20th October, it was like stepping out into a different world, autumn had definitely arrived, golden leaves were everywhere, there had been none when I first arrived. Emma was wrapped in a shawl and I cradled her in my arms. Nick took us home to where her Grandparents (Nick's side)  were waiting for us, it was so good to get home. The next day was the turn of her other Grandparents to come and meet the new arrival.

Earlier I had been admitted to hospital on the 10th October, in preparation for a Caesarean Section. This was usually carried out a week before the due date, which did concern me. The next morning I could not wait for Nick to arrive, although he could not come in with me, he was with me to the very last moment as I went into surgery and he was there waiting for both of us afterwards.

I remember Emma being held up so I could see her, and then she was whisked away to intensive care for a while. I can still see the image of her face in my mind. I was taken to a room to recover, Nick by my side. Later that day I remember my Dad visiting, Emma with the other babies, all in small cots, were in a room with a large long viewing window. Dad said that she was the most beautiful baby there.

The next day I was moved into another room, which I shared with another new mum and Emma was placed in her cot, beside me. On the window sill were flowers and many congratulation cards, from family and friends.

In the early days of my pregnancy I had spent 3 weeks in hospital, having injections every other day because of our different blood groups, but it was all worth while to finally have our lovely extra special daughter.

Linking up to Flashback Friday

Monday, 10 October 2011

More on Monday... "Best day at the beach, EVER!"

On Saturday we took Leo out for a little trip to Agia Triada to a nearby beach I had recently discovered, a perfect toddler beach... no sunbeds, no tourists and no shops or restaurants, just sand, rocks and space to run around.

He usually seems to like the idea of the beach more than the reality, this year we've been much more than last but  the longest we have successfully stayed is about 2 hours. By this point he's hungry, or tired, or wants to go to the pub (a habit we accidentally started by going to our 'local' for breakfast after Sunday morning beach trips). It's not really been a problem as living so close to the beaches it doesn't really matter if its a short visit.

Now the weather has cooled down a little it's a much nicer experience for him,  so we thought we'd take him to explore the 'new beach'   We paddled in the sea, dug some holes and poured water in them. We had a big ball and did lots of kicking about. 

We were there less than an hour as the sky turned a bit dark and we thought it best to make a swift exit before the heavens opened so we suggested going for a walk to see the boats at the fishing harbour just round the corner and conveniently on the way back to the car. 

He loved seeing the boats and seeing all the different things to look at, we saw a cat, flags waving in the breeze and it said it was 'all exciting'. With one eye on the clouds we made our way back to the car, as we strapped him in he said "Thank you for lovely day at beach Mummydaddy"    

On the way home he was talking about what we had done, 'made castles (we didn't actually do that!), dug hole, pour water in and everybody kicking ball,  AND saw loads and loads and loads of boats - wow MummyDaddy (always said as one word!) that was best day at beach EVER!'

How lovely these days are when they are so easily pleased!

Saturday, 8 October 2011

A really useful engine.

Back in the year BC (before child) I wholeheartedly believed many things about parenthood, there were things I planned to do, and not do and it all appeared fairly straight forward to achieve. One of these things was strictly limiting the amount of television my child would watch. Instead I would ensure we always did many 'fun and educational' activities.  I look back on my poor deluded previous self now and wonder what happened!

Prior to our move to Cyprus,Leo had seen very little children’s tv, in fact just before we moved we staying at a friends house he watched in wonder at CBeebies for the first time and looked at me amazed that such wonders existed, after all I had been enjoying the days of being able to get away watching ‘This Morning’ and 'Loose Women' in relative peace when he was tiny and spent most of the day sleeping.

After a month in Cyprus with no tv, we got satellite, not a dish as big as our house like many have to be able to pick up all the English channels, but a nice little dish to go on the roof – lovely, as that meant a couple of hours of Barney, Thomas and Bob then it would switch to Arabic for the rest of the day and off it went. 

Over the months we slowly acquired a small selection of DVDs, and then my good laid plans all went to pieces. It’s a lot harder to pretend there is nothing to watch when there actually is!

First came “The Wiggles”, he was too young to ask for it but I knew he loved it and it was an easy way of occupying him for parts of the long day on my own with him. It was here I accidentally started the tv habit. It was fun and very entertaining to see him dancing along, he started to dance long before he could walk. They started to drive me mad, but I soon missed them when he learnt to speak and discovered Postman Pat.

For weeks the first and last thing he seemed to say each day was “Pat, Pat peese Mummy” this was annoying but the repeated watching of it did enable him to learn his numbers and the alphabet so it had it’s benefits.

Just around the time I started to hum the theme tune in my sleep he suddenly started, like many young boys before him to see the wonder of Thomas, oh how he loves that little blue engine.  It’s the longest obsession so far, and I feel this one will run and run. It’s no bad thing though, it seems to be firing his imagination and encouraging his love of reading as he has ‘Thomas’ books too. He knows the stories inside out on his books and takes great pleasure in ‘reading’ them to everyone.  If he can't 'read'  or remember the story he makes it up, and they are very good, and generally make sense. 

He has a set of Thomas tracks which he plays with most days, chattering away to himself and re-enacting the books or the programs.  I know he's growing up but the increase in vocabulary seems to have happened overnight and his memory for the plot lines and characters astounds me.

Yesterday he found a calculator and decided it was a phone, since then he has been calling up all the characters from Thomas and having some real in-depth conversations. He has such a memory for all the stories from the program and his books and is recreating them via the 'phone calls'

Sometimes I get the ‘guilt’ and worry there is too much tv in his life, but I think I’ll continue to ignore it like most of us and be pleased that he gets so much from a simple program. 
Leo's best colouring so far!
ShowOff Showcase

Friday, 7 October 2011

Birthday girl

Do you remember the days when you used to count down the days to your birthday? When you could hardly wait to be a year older? When birthdays were the best thing ever? I can very well, not unfortunately because it was only yesterday, but because I have a whole pile of photos from over the years to look back on.

Next Tuesday is my birthday so in my weekly trip down memory lane for Flashback Friday I thought I'd relieve birthdays gone by...

The years blend into one looking back but I loved everything about my birthday, from choosing the invites and writing them out at the dining table, and going with Mum to buy the matching party stuff weeks in advance as I'd be so excited.

Coming downstairs in the morning to see presents and cards on the table waiting for me and usually presented in a really cool way, One year I had a 'Care Bear' theme (in fact maybe more than one year!) My Mum had brought an extra table cloth and had cut out pictures and decorated the whole room,  another year Dad had strung fairy lights all around and they were all twinkling away as I walked in.

Over the years I had some really brilliant presents.. one that springs to mind was a pink Le Clic Camera, remember those?  I also had some fantastic cakes, at the time the most impressive to me were the Care Bear cakes made my our neighbour that I had two years running - same shape, change the colour and voilà - different bear!  But looking back the Fairy Castle cake made by my Mum has to be the best...  I don't have a photo on my computer but this was amazing, made from many pieces of sponge with iced ice cream cornets on swiss rolls for turrets and all covered in lilac icing.   My Mum was so worried that it would all collapse overnight before I saw it but it didn't and was great!

One of my best ever birthday memories was on my 16th birthday, when I imagine I would have been much harder to please than in my younger years. I came downstairs, this time much later than my parents (as opposed to the days when I'd charge down at 'stupid o'clock in the morning) to hear "Happy birthday sweet sixteen" playing.  Apparently my Dad had been everywhere trying to find it on CD (I think my present that year was a CD player) to be able to play it.

Every time I hear the song it takes me right back to that moment, I remember thinking initially (in my stroppy teenage mind)  "oh my god, Neil Sedaka, seriously?" but then seeing my parents standing there and then listening to the words and just thinking how brilliant it was to have it played. Then listening to the words, that my Dad was singing and realising how strange it must be to have a grown up daughter.....because obviously I thought I was now all grown up!

If I should smile with sweet surprise,
it's just that you've grown up before my very eyes
You've turned into the prettiest girl I've ever seen
Happy Birthday sweet sixteen

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

A tale of two 'Raff's'

This is 'Orange Raff', you may have met him before as he's been around for a good couple of years now.He has spent almost any many nights in the cot as Leo and he's always been there when it seems the world is ending.  'Orange Raff  was once just plain Raff, or 'Mr G.Raff' if we're being a bit more formal. Named by Aaron and placed by Leo's head in his cot when he was a couple of weeks old it wasn't too long before he started to play a bigger role.

For many months it seemed as Leo would never notice him, every morning he was left to laze around in bed while Leo got up and faced each day.  One morning though a long time ago now, Leo picked him up as he was lifted out the cot and gradually he became an extension of Leo's hand.

As Leo began to talk and started learning colours he would name the colour of everything he said. He struggled for a while with being able to pronounce 'orange' so at first it was actually 'Offinge Raff' but soon he figured it out and the name just stuck.

Orange Raff would often go AWOL resulting in a mad search of the apartment just before bedtime, or would have to sneak off to be washed and dried before anyone would notice. This prompted me to think about getting a stand in, just in case of emergencies.

Spot the difference?
It was hard work but we eventually located one, there was however a slight problem...

Now it seems that Leo is not daft, he spotted straight away that something was not right and there was an imposter in our midst. I tried washing, squashing and even sleeping with the new Raff under my pillow but nothing but many months of love and cuddles (and ear chewing) was going to get us anywhere close, so we gave up and introduced 'Big Orange Raff' to the family.

The two Raff's now live happily side by side with Leo, Big Raff is welcomed but it will always be the little one that gets the most attention!

This week's Gallery prompt is Colours, head over to Sticky Fingers to see the other entries.

Monday, 3 October 2011

The many faces of Leo

Let me introduce you to the many faces of Leo...

Leo is entering a new and amusing stage in which he is becoming very entertaining to watch.  He's speech amazes me daily, the things he remembers and repeats, and the random funny things he regularly comes out with.

His latest thing is to make his 'sad face' and come up really close pointing to his face,  you then have to give him a cuddle as he is sad and you have 'need make Leo happy now'  You give him a really big cuddle and he thinks for a moment and pulls the sad face again... meaning he has to have another cuddle.  The cuddles generally get bigger and more 'squeezy' and eventually he will be trying to do his sad face but is laughing his head off!

If you ask him to 'do' different faces he is happy to oblige and he loved his little photo shoot to capture them all.

He is loving the Mr Men books at the moment of which he has four, he spends just as long looking at the pictures on the back of all the characters as he does actually reading the books.  He often declares which 'Mr' he is at any given point, usually 'Mr Bump' or 'Mr Chatterbox'. I often tell him he is being 'Mr Noisy' but he normally disagrees!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Molkky - Best selling game from Finland

As part of the games package we recently reviewed, Blog-Match sent me some information about a great looking outdoor game called Molkky and I thought I'd share it with you.

Molkky is a best selling game in Finland, and I would imagine it's popularity will soon be spreading elsewhere. I'd love to give it a go as it looks like something that could be enjoyed by the whole family.

Molkky is a outdoor skittle throwing game made from replenishable wood. The rules are simple with the first player to knock down 50 points worth of skittles using the wooden throwing pin becoming the winner.  

The secret of Molkky’s success is the fact it can be played on many levels with a variety of skills and strategy, ensuring mum and dad can happily play along with the teenagers, in fact, even the youngest member of the family can master Molkky!

Tactic Games also has giant versions of Yatzy, Giant Tower and the lively Ten Sticks on a Board, all made from replenishable wood and ideal for family games in the sunshine!

Molkky is available from  at £34.99

Silent Sunday

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