Tuesday, 29 November 2011

It's still all Greek to me!

Regular readers of my blog will know that I'm in the process of learning Greek, I have been learning it on and off for several years now but have struggled to get into a regular pattern of studying.  When I received my Rosetta Stone TOTALe software back in July I was very excited (I really was, I believe I may have tried to put Leo to bed an hour early.... it didn't work!)  and threw myself straight into it, doing a little almost every night and scheduling Studio sessions whenever I could.

Included with the TOTALe package is 3 months subscription to the online services, and when this ran out I think my motivation left with it!  In the similar way to going to an actual Slimming World class helped me to lose weight the live sessions ensured I kept up with the lessons and didn't start to skip days. The thought that you have one booked and you are going to be having a 50 minute conversation in Greek makes me much more inclined to get on with it!

Rosetta Stone have kindly offered me further on-line access to the Studio Sessions and other on-line content so I've eagerly booked up my next two sessions, one tomorrow and one at the weekend..... I've gone back to basics and am choosing to re-do Level 1 and 2 rather than the Level 4 that I had got to as I've been slacking for so long I'm reinforcing my knowledge of the early stuff. 

I'm determined to stick with it this time, not only will I need to speak the language when Leo goes to school but now I'm working I'm dealing with locals on a daily basis and often making phone calls to people who don't speak English very well, or at all - in times like that I really need to be able to say more than 'I'd like 2 beers please'   (even though that's almost definitely what I'd be wanting!)


I'd also like to say how impressed I was with Rosetta Stone support, (and for not pointing out how stupid I was when it turned out I was typing the activation code in incorrectly  *bangs head on keyboard*)    When I couldn't find the answer to my problem on the website, I spoke to an on-line support guy for an hour who did some techy stuff and fixed the first problem.   Then the following day after discovering I had a problem with the new activation code, swearing at the laptop for a while and them giving up with the hump R.S called, remotely accessed my computer and sorted it all out in a few minutes.

I'm now all good to go again.....    

Thursday, 24 November 2011

2 years in Cyprus

Today is our 'Cyprus Anniversary', we have now been in Cyprus 2 years!   Last year I looked at the difference a year makes and how much it felt like home.  It wasn't the easiest of years and I had always been looking forward to this second year, actually in some ways this year has been even harder due to Aaron losing his job and money being somewhat tight but in terms of feeling like home this year has been an improvement.

My parents moved out in March and now it seems like they've always been here, it seems like I've known my friends here forever and now I've even got a job!  

Aaron is now on the committee for the Famagusta Eightball Pool Championships as Vice Chairman and is Captain of his team 'All the Kings Men' who play for the King's Sword Pub in Agia Napa.  Aaron has been playing pool for years but this is the first time he's been Captain!

I'm now writing for Daxi, a local magazine and also enjoy getting involved with the brilliant website Mums in Cyprus. I've just started working with MG Health & Fitness  and I'm (slowly) learning Greek, all of which is making me feel more like I belong here. 

It's really not as easy as it might sound though, especially at the moment while we are looking for work  Sorting out child / unemployment benefit (we are entitled to it as Aaron has worked and paid social insurance for two years here and we are still in the EU) is very difficult due to not only the language but the random way in which things usually seem to be done!  Even simple things like going to the doctors can be hard but it's obviously going to get easier as time goes on and we get used to it even more, and before you say it I know it was our choice.... if we don't like it then go home  (you were thinking it weren't you!)

I do sometimes wonder if we made the right decision, (sssh, don't tell anyone!) but only when things are a bit crap - and it's very easy to blame the fact we live in Cyprus for that and forget that we'd be sure to have various problems in the UK too. Aaron has no doubt whatsoever and he may well be right (but don't tell him so!) but then I've always been one to 'overthink' things.

Overall, it's bloody great and I think it's the best thing we've ever done. We've met great people and had some great times....

Things that make me happy

As part of my 101 list I decided I would make a list of 101 things that make me happy. I started making the list back in July last year and although most of it came to mind pretty easily I soon got stuck, I was determined that it wouldn't beat me though so I saved it and have been coming back to every now and again.   Of course, now I've finished it I'm sure a load more things will pop into my head that should have gone on the list!

I'm also cheating a little and linking this up to 'Reasons to be Cheerful' this week over at Bod For Tea as although I've not been the most cheerful person this list reminds me of many reasons to be!

  1. Being Mum to Leo
  2. Being married to Aaron
  3. Sunshine
  4. Good friends
  5. Losing excess pounds
  6. The view from my balcony
  7. Photos
  8. Good music
  9. My parents
  10. Dancing
  11. Making lists
  12. Floating on a lilo
  13. Leo laughing
  14. Not being in debt
  15. Tidy apartment
  16. Drinking with friends
  17. Weddings
  18. Sleeping in late
  19. Reading good books
  20. BBQs
  21. Talking
  22. Smoking!
  23. Meeting people at airport arrivals
  24. Sleeping snuggled under a duvet
  25. Playing with a dog
  26. Eating good food
  27. Having a plan
  28. Finding a bargain
  29. Watching a sleeping Leo
  30. Baking cakes
  31. Catching up on facebook gossip
  32. Organizing events
  33. Seeing Leo learn new things
  34. Going for random drives with AJ
  35. Completing a crossword
  36. Being just the “right” temperature!
  37. Getting my hair done
  38. Eating together as a family
  39. Being busy
  40. Blogging
  41. Watching a good program or film
  42. Sitting outside in the evening
  43. Watching the sunset
  44. Going to the pub (without Leo - like the old days!)
  45. Planning a party
  46. Being a stay at home mum
  47. Days out
  48. Drinking cocktails
  49. Meeting up with other Mum’s and babies
  50. Reminiscing 
  51. Having enough sleep
  52. Having a cupboard full of ironed clothes (by someone else!)
  53. Clean sheets
  54. Comments on my blog posts
  55. Swimming in the sea
  56. Jeans that fit perfectly
  57. Giving presents
  58. Tea and biscuits!
  59. Getting a parcel in the post
  60. Emails / phone calls from friends in UK
  61. Christmas dinner
  62. Watching Leo do something new
  63. Bath and bed time!
  64. Leo sleeping well at night
  65. People being on time for things
  66. Having a pile of magazines to read
  67. Being up so late that it gets light (assuming I can then sleep all day!)
  68. Playing/dancing/singing with Leo
  69. New clothes
  70. Paddling in the sea
  71. Building sandcastles/digging with Leo
  72. Standing out on the balcony at night
  73. Playing board games / Wii games with friends
  74. Watching Leo playing with his friends
  75. Hot baths in winter time
  76. Cool showers in summer!
  77. Getting a new toy (phone, camera, any kind of gadget!)
  78. Rearranging cupboards and getting rid of junk
  79. Hitting ‘publish’ on a great blog post
  80. Being organized
  81. Having my cupboards full of food
  82. My car
  83. Reading trashy magazines on the beach
  84. Playing ‘ipod roulette’
  85. Finding I’ve got new ‘blog followers’
  86. Cake and chocolate!
  87. Beating peoples high scores on stupid facebook games
  88. Jigsaw puzzles
  89. Choosing books in a library
  90. Finding money you didn’t realize you had
  91. Spa / massage treatments
  92. Dressing up
  93. Boot sales
  94. Learning new things
  95. The internet!
  96. Comments on my photos or facebook status
  97. Putting up the Christmas decorations
  98. The view of the sea as you drive round Cape Grecko
  99. Re-watching my wedding video
  100. Having something to look forward to
  101. Finally finishing a task I’ve been working on for ages!
I started my Day Zero project on July 29, 2010 so I've got 523 days left. I've completed 45 items off the list so it's not going too badly.  To see how I'm doing you can visit my 101 in 1001 page here.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Onion Marmalade - Creating Christmas

Last night, feeling particularly organised  I decided to start the first of my Christmas cooking, I love cooking and particularly enjoy preparing things for Christmas, as a child I always looked forward to making Cheese Straws and Mince pies with my Mum, always to the sound of carols so it's usually the start of the festive season for me. 

I decided it was a little too early to break out the Christmas CD so instead I opted for wine and Strictly Come Dancing on the TV in the background... obviously Aaron was out so I had control of the TV!

Some time ago I found a recipe for Onion Marmalde and thought it would be nice to go with cold meat and cheeses over Christmas. Aaron introduced me to the brilliant Boxing Day tradition of this meal and we always used to get some sort of onion relish.  You can buy it here in Cyprus but there is not a huge choice and it's not usually very cheap so I thought I'd give it a go.

Despite collecting jam jars for a while and ordering a pack of wax discs and jar covers from Ebay, once I started drinking wine cooking the marmalade I realised that I didn't actually have any idea what to do with them.... 

It's a really simple recipe.....

110g butter
900g Onions thinly sliced
2 tbsp granulated sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
75ml sherry or red wine vinegar
2 tbsp grenadine or creme de cassis
1/2 bottle of red wine or less (or more if you are anything like me!) to taste

Melt the butter in a medium pan and add the onions.  Add the sugar and seasoning, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the vinegar, red wine and grenadine, cook uncovered over a low heat stirring when necessary until the sauce thickens and bubbles slowly.

Then get a bit confused about what to do with the wax discs and the cellophane bits that came in the jam jar kit and tweet frantically to anyone who'd listen trying to find out. 

Feel relived when you notice The Boy and Me online and bombard her with silly questions until you kinda figure it out!

I sterilised the jars in the oven (after quick Google search to find that out - jars on tray at low heat for 20 mins)  and then spooned the hot mixture into the hot jars.   (and all over the worktop and down the sides but that wasn't part of the plan)

Wax discs onto the top then cover with the cellophane and seal with an elastic band - voila!

I would have taken more photos if I had remembered - spot the wine glass in the picture!

To see the other 'Creating Christmas' posts click the badge below


Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Sponsorship Opportunity - BritMums Live

After reading so much about previous blogger events such as Cybermummy11 and the MAD blog awards and seeing the excitement created by them on twitter and on lots of blogs I follow I have been hoping I would one day get the chance to attend one. Since BritMums Live was announced I've been planning my trip!

BritMums Live is the biggest blogging event of the year, devoted entirely to parent bloggers, and run by the UK's largest parent blogging network of more than 3000 influential bloggers.

Now, as you should have gathered by now although I am a Brit, and a Mum, I actually live in Cyprus which means I could do with a little assistance in getting to the event!  Attending BritMums would be a fantastic opportunity for me but I would also like to use this opportunity to work with a company relevant to my family and our lives and the readers of my blog.

In case you are a new reader to 'A matter of choice'  let me introduce myself....

I'm Emma, a 34 year old expat Brit, wife and Mum to Leonidas our 2½ year old. We moved to Cyprus in 2009 because it seemed like a good idea at the time, and luckily it was!

I started this blog as a way of documenting our move and our 'new' life and keeping family and friends who may be interested updated in what we were up to. I didn't realise at first that I had joined an amazing community of  fellow parent bloggers and other expats all over the world.

Blogging has provided me with some great opportunities, and the chance to work with some great companies. I now write a monthly column for Daxi Magazine, and have my own section on Mums in Cyprus.com and the global expat network Angloinfo.

I would love to attend BritMums Live to meet in 'real life' with many of my fellow bloggers, and find out more about this brilliant community, how it works and how I can further improve my little bit of cyberspace.

I am looking for a kind sponsor to help me out in being able to attend this fantastic event. 
In return I can offer you the following...

  • I will represent your company (and only your company) at the event itself. This includes wearing an item you may wish to provide promoting your brand..... by this I mean a t-shirt or badge, as much as I love fancy dress a giant chicken costume or similar is not the way I wish to meet my fellow bloggers.
  • I will place your company logo and link to your website in a prominent position on my blog for the whole of 2012.
  • I will write reviews of any product you would like me to try on my blog with text links and photos.
  • I will write an introductory post introducing you as my sponsor which will also include keywords and text links. 
  • I will mention your  company and sponsorship in any post, twitter / facebook and other social network sites when talking about my attendance of BritMums Live.
  • I will mention your company in a feature about the conference on Mumsincyprus.com Angloinfo.com and in local magazine - Daxi 
I am also happy to discuss any further requirements you may have.

So, what would I like in exchange for the above?

  • BritMums Live ticket £49.99
  • Travel expenses £190
  • One night hotel accommodation  £115 
I feel this is a great opportunity for any company wishing to raise their profile in Cyprus, the UK and across Europe. If you are interested in the above or would like any further information please contact me via email amatterofchoice@hotmail.com  or on twitter @Emsyjo 

Monday, 21 November 2011

Ladies who cake.

I love cake.... well who doesn't!

I love to bake cakes but I'm not even vaguely artistic and to make matters worse have zero patience so generally not very good at even trying!  So in our house when it come to making special occasion cakes it become a team effort, I bake it and Aaron decorates it. Between us I think we've done well, there was the pumpkin cake, the ghost cake, Mickey Mouse for Leo's birthday among others.

A couple of people said we should sell them but they as good as they are, they are not that good.... these however I think are brilliant...

They are the work of my lovely Sister-in-law and her business partner who have recently started 'Ladies Who Cake'  They are based in Kent working from home and since they started earlier this year have been inundated with requests.

You can find them on facebook at Ladies Who Cake

This is NOT a sponsored post, I have received no payment, not even any cake for writing this, I just wanted to share these brilliant creations with you. I will however be demanding samples when I'm next in the UK :)

Saturday, 19 November 2011

The week that went too fast

Last Sunday was an unusual day, I said 'see you later' to my friend Michelle and then went straight to the airport to meet my friend Larisa which was great timing as it cheered me up! I saw Larisa once last August when I was in the UK but Aaron hadn't seen her since we left almost 2 years ago and Leo wouldn't have remembered her. 

Leo loves to look at photos so in the week leading up to her arrival I showed him lots of photos so he knew who was coming. I think she was quite surprised he took to her straight away like he'd seen her every day of his life, even before she showered him with presents!

Regular readers (and fellow ex-pats) will know that one of my least favourite things about living in Cyprus is the lack of reasonably priced clothes (and toys, books, stickers among many other things) so Larisa had been gathering goodies for us for a while. I'd also been on ebay winning random items to be sent to her, I'm surprised she had any room left for her own clothes!

Before she booked Larisa said she was thinking of coming over in November or January, I suggested November as the weather would probably be better but unfortunately it rained for most of the time she was here. It meant we couldn't do most of the things we'd planned and there is not a lot to do in Cyprus when it rains. We managed to get out in the day a few times in the end but luckily she had come to see us rather than the sites as there was not much rain free time in the last week!

Leo absolutely loved Larisa and would not leave her alone for a second, it's a good job that with three nephews she is used to it and loves being 'Auntie 'risa'  All you heard all week was 'Come on 'risa I got an idea - come in my bedroom / sit on the floor / play Thomas / read this  and so on. Each morning he woke up and asked where she'd gone, to then get very excited when she appeared each day.

We tried to fit 2 years of gossip into her time here and I feel like I've been speaking for a week, chatting about all kinds of random rubbish is what we do best! It all seemed to go by too fast though and last night I had to take her back to the airport for her flight home. I don't do very well with 'goodbyes' so in my usual style I stopped at the drop of point and with a quick see you later was gone. I'm sure she won't be offended by that as it's pretty much what we said 2 years ago, and although it took a while is exactly what we did!

People come into your life and people go.
But it's comforting to know the ones you love are always in your heart, 
And if you're very lucky, a plane ride away.
Carrie Bradshaw,  Sex and The City.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Flashback Friday - Weekend in Paris

One of the best presents and biggest surprise I've received was from Aaron for our first Christmas as a married couple. We were at my parents house exchanging gifts (we used to save our and take them round so we all opened the presents together) and Aaron handed me two presents.  I opened the first one to reveal a guidebook for Paris. With a present like that after a moments confusion you start to wonder if it's a rather random choice of gift or a clue to an amazing one!

It was of course a clue, the next present I opened was a wallet containing travel documents and an itinerary of things that he had planned for us.  It was booked for the early January and Aaron had already cleared it with my work to have the time off!

I'd never been on a city break before and I although I was really looking forward to it, I didn't think it would be like a holiday as such.... weekends go very fast and I didn't think it would be particularly relaxing - the only ever foreign trips I'd taken being beach holidays which involved a lot of sitting in the sun doing nothing!

I was very wrong, It was an amazing weekend, although I may have been known to moan about the amount of walking we did! (in my defence I was a lot bigger and very unfit at the time!)  Aaron had really thought the whole weekend through and apart from the lack of use of the Metro it was perfect )

It's hard to pick a highlight but I could narrow it down to two. On the Saturday evening we had a lovely dinner followed by a show at the Moulin Rouge, I love big showy performances and you don't get much more so than this!

Aaron had also prebooked an evening dinner cruise on a Bateaux Mouches, this was amazing!  A five course meal with music whilst cruisng down the Seine  - that takes some beating!  The moment I will always remember was when we were stood outside, just as we happened to be passing the Eiffel Tower. It was freezing cold and as I was wearing a dress was suffering, Aaron gave me his jacket and just as he put it round my shoulders the lights on the Eiffel Tower sparkled (as they do for the first 10 minutes of every hour when the tower is lit up)   - how ridiculously romantic is that!

To see more great Flashbacks, head over to Cafe Bebe.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

The Gallery - 11/11/11

It may not rain very often in Cyprus but when it does it really chucks it down, since we have been here we have seen some huge storms and have spent many an evening staring out the patio doors watching the lightning illuminate the sky.

Never before though have we seen a sky lit up like this...

What made it all the more surreal is the fact that not only were we stood outside with no sign of rain anywhere, we could also hear no thunder at all.  The storm was way out to sea and went on for almost an hour with nearly constant lightning!

It was a fitting end to a day with a unusual date, and the perfect timing for this weeks Gallery post, the prompt was 11/11/11 and the task was to use a photo to mark whatever we were doing on that day.

Monday, 14 November 2011

It's not goodbye, just 'See you later'

One of the advantages of being an expat Mum in Cyprus is when you meet other British Mums with similar age children you immediately have at least two things in common. This can be very helpful when making new friends in a new country. Some people you just click with and it seems like you've known each other for years.

Of course, there is an equal disadvantage to making friends abroad, the fact that circumstances can arise which makes it necessary for them to leave. My friend Michelle leaves for England this week with her gorgeous little boy, Oliver who is one of Leo's best mates.

I met Michelle initially via Facebook and we met in real life early 2010, meeting up generally at least once a week at 'Jingle Jangle's' toddler music group.

The boys are 'usually' best of friends but go through stages of seeming to hate each other!  Both as bad as one another in different ways they often have their moments where all they do is wind each other up.... Oliver likes to get very close to Leo, usually accompanied by the cutest sounding 'alwight mate?, yeah Leo's alwight, he's just a bit crying'   to which Leo, will throw himself to the ground crying 'Owiwer pushed me'  when actually all he did was to stand a bit too close!

Although I'll see Michelle again before she goes, the boys have already said their goodbyes, not that they realised it. We met at the soft play place along with another friend of ours and her son and spent over an hour trying to get a nice photo of the three boys together.

They were being even more uncooperative than 2 year old boys usually were and in the end we gave up and enjoyed watching playing instead!

I'm glad they are too young to realise that Oliver is moving away as I would have been even sadder when we said goodbye as we left, as it is Leo's little wave and 'Bye Owiwer' as he got  in the car nearly made me cry!

I'm not good with 'goodbyes' so I refuse to say it, but hopefully they will be back soon :(

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Creating Christmas

I must apologise for bringing up the 'C word' so early.....Christmas is not actually that far away, but you probably knew that. I imagine that in the UK it's been everywhere you turn for weeks now? but here it's only the last week or so that I've seen or heard any mention of it.

I'll soon be reading all the usual stuff online about Christmas stress and shopping in tweets and facebook statuses and be thankful that I'm out of it, don't get me wrong I LOVE Christmas but can't stand all the faffing about presents...  who everyone is or isn't buying for, how much it's costing etc etc

I like to think that maybe people are going to worry less about it all with so many people now struggling for money but I'm probably being optimistic.

This year, for the first time I'm doing home-made stuff, it may not be brilliant but it's the thought that counts and it's that or nothing!  I only be doing things for a very small amount of  people as we are so far from everyone else and I know they will be happy with their gifts, but if I thought someone would be offended by a home-made gift then I'd probably decide they are very rude and not be inclined to give them a gift at all, after all it takes more thought and time to make something than to pick up some random gift in a shop which they quite possibly do not even want.

I'm really looking forward to getting into the kitchen to create lots of (hopefully) yummy Christmas treats, you can expect some blog posts along the way about it,  and I'm also planning to try and get over my reluctance to involve Leo in the kitchen and get him 'helping' along the way.  I loved the run up to Christmas as a child and I hope to create plenty of excitement and traditions for Leo over the years, helping to create gifts for others I feel is a very good start!

I'm not the most naturally creative of people and I'm always trawling the internet for ideas so I'm looking for inspiration,  I know there will be a million blog posts out there so if you have one I'd love you to share it with me...   if you have a Christmas craft, recipe or home-made gift idea then please join me and add your post to the linky below.

I'll be doing a 'Creating Christmas' post on Mondays between now and the day itself starting in a week or so, but the linky is open now so feel free to link up any posts you already have, to help me out - your ideas might just work their way into my Christmas plans. You can stop by each week to join in, or you can visit my Creating Christmas page by clicking on the link at the top of the page. Posts can be new or old as long as they are relevant, and feel free to add as many as you like!


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and link to my blog

Friday, 11 November 2011

Lest we forget

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
Laurence Binyon (1869 - 1943).
image credit

Flashback Friday - the best weekends in the world!

Back in the good ol'days we went through a bit of a second childhood!  It all started with my hen weekend when 8 of my friends and I went to Butlins for a 'School disco' weekend and ended up with five separate trips in just two years!

They were quite simply the best weekends of all time! Friends, fancy dress, dancing, drinking and lots and lots of laughter. There was something about the place that made you regress to childhood - maybe it was all the flashing lights on the arcade machines! From the Friday when we arrived until the Monday when we left it was like being in a different world - a world that was often very surreal!

Aaron and I, as we do went to great efforts to persuade everyone to dress up, at least on the Saturday night. Over the various trips we have been school kids on several occasions (the simplest and one of the most fun, especially when there are 8 of you dressed like it!), Superheroes, and other random and quite brilliant costumes ranging from the '118 guys', Scary Clown, Scooby Doo, and 'Pink Ladies' 

This often led to random behaviour  - Aaron running around terrifying people dressed as Scary Clown, Me (Batgirl) and 'Wonderwoman' running around the huge indoor pavilion at stupid o'clock in the morning pretending to fly,  Aaron and one of my friends trying to win a teddy in one of those 'grab machines' whilst handcuffed to each other only to press the button and have to arm fall into the pile of teddies, then trying to complain to the manager whilst still handcuffed. Me and the girls going on stage for an actual game of Mallet's Mallet - remember that?    I could go on, but they just get worse!

The adult weekends were brilliant, we did different themed ones - School Disco, 80's and 70's and we have seen some brilliant (and random) acts over the years.  Boney M, Bananarama, Kid Creole, Five Star (well 3 of them!) Chas & Dave,  Doctor & Medics,  and *ahem* Timmy Mallet and Chicco.... both of whom I drunkenly ended up having my photo taken with, *hangs head in shame*.

We saw brilliant tribute groups too, 'The Jamn', Badness, Maddonna and Wham Duran. We danced until we dropped, drank our body weights in alcohol, ate burgers at 4am in the morning and laughed until our faces hurt!

I've had this post in mind for ages as I've been trying to think of a way to do it justice, but I can't. 15 days in total of Butlins madness can never be summed up in a blog post, and many stories (and lots of the photos) cannot be published on here! I may now be hundreds of miles away but I don't think I'd be very popular!

The last one was in 2007 and there were a record number of us, 22 I believe it was. We knew it was going to be the last one as many of the group were now 'coupled up' and the dynamic was changing a bit, in fact it was not long after that the first of the group started having babies! Since those photos above were taken there have been 10 babies born between us.... that's quite a scary thought!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful 1,2,3 - still smiling, just!

I'm still smiling, well I say smiling, it's more like grimacing through the pain!  On Tuesday I picked up Leo off the sofa and pulled a muscle in my back and it got steadily worse throughout the day, Wednesday morning it took me 20 minutes to get out of bed :(

I'm still cheerful though as in particularly good timing I've met the lovely Claire from MG Fitness and they don't just do fitness, Claire is also a qualified sports massage therapist so has been helping me out and at least I can now get in and out of bed!

Tomorrow I'm due to meet up with a couple of my friends at the local soft play place, I'm only kinda cheerful about this one of the girls leaves Cyprus next week to move back to the UK and we're really going to miss her. I am looking forward to the meet up though as Aaron is also coming (to save me having to climb round the play area with a bad back!) and he's only been to soft play once with him before, so will be great for him to see how much he loves it.

My biggest reason to be cheerful is the fact my friend Larisa arrives on Sunday for her first ever visit to Cyprus, I saw her once last year in my visit to the UK but apart from that its been 2 years, so I'm looking forward to plenty of gossip to catch up on!

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

10 Questions

There is another meme doing the rounds at the moment and I've tagged by Jenny from Mummy Mishaps.

1. Describe yourself in seven words.
Enthusiastic, loyal, inpatient, persistent, talkative, frustrated, sociable. 

2. What keeps you awake at night?
Not much, usually I sleep very well but these days it's not so much Leo waking up rather the thought that he is about to wake up! I can lie in bed for ages thinking he's probably going to wake up any second, sometimes he does, sometimes it an be an hour or two later but I still do it!

3. If  you could be anyone for a day who would you be and why?
I think I'd be Leo, it would be fascinating to see the world through his eyes and be able to have the best time ever by playing with a box or jumping on some squares. It would be interesting to better understand how annoying it must be to be 2 years old and to see things from his point of view.

4. What are you wearing now?
Pyjama's, big fluffy dressing gown and slipper boots. I realise I could have lied and pretended I was actually dressed but I do most of my blogging either late at night or really early in the morning!

5. What scares you?
Our finances, or lack of them! 

6.What is the best and worst thing about blogging?
There are several good things about blogging, it's hard to narrow it down to one. I suppose the best is the people I've 'met' which is odd as I've not met any in 'real life'. I love the community between bloggers and the way they bounce off each other, inspiring them and supporting them. I also love the fact it is providing me with a record of our life that will be great to look back on.

The worst... well many people have said about the cyber bullying that sometimes goes on but I stay out of that so it's not my worst. For me there is no real downside but if I had to pick it would be the time I feel I 'have' to spend doing it and being online, although that's self imposed and  I don't HAVE to I can't complain really! 

7.What was the last website you looked at?
Facebook, it's such a habit so it's usually the first and last one I look at! 

8.If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
Hmm, that's a hard one. I could say I wanted to be fitter/thinner but I could change that so I should come up with something better. I would be able to speak Greek fluently - I'm working on it but I think fluency is a long way off!

9. Slankets, yes or no?
In case you don't know the Slanket is a blanket with sleeves, I want one!  Aaron would go mad - he used to moan that I always sat under a blanket in my flat but it would be perfect for the cold winter nights here!

10. Tell us something about the person who tagged you.
Jenny is the first person I started chatting with when I started blogging, and although we've never met I would now consider her to be a  friend, we 'talk' more often than I do with most of my 'real' friends!  We have discovered we have lots in common and not just a love of drinking and fancy dress!  

The rules...
Answer the 10 questions
Tag someone to do the same
Come back to the original blog post by Super Amazing Mum  and comment saying you've done it so everyone can find the posts.

I'm going to tag Christine - Expat Mum in Portugal  as I'd like to find out her view on the Slanket.. wondering  if she will be feeling the cold as much me after a long hot summer!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Health & Fitness...

I've never been a fan of sports or going to the gym, from my school days until only recent years I would go out of my way to avoid doing even the smallest amount of exercise,  I was the big kid in the class, the one always picked last in games and I used to dread every PE lesson. This stayed with me as I grew up and would miss out on lots of things with my friends, on summer Sundays we'd all go to the park and while they played rounders or volleyball I'd sit in the sun making jokes about how that was too much like hard work and I was busy getting a tan or drinking a beer but really I didn't have the confidence to join in and was worried they'd laugh as I got too out of breath running around.

Only as I lost weight did I discover that I could actually exercise and not die.... although MY GOD did it kill me at the time I was stunned to see how much easier it all became as the pounds dropped off and I got stronger. For about  year I regularly did exercise DVDs at home and later pilates classes at my local gym but I never felt like I really got to a 'good' level of fitness, I usually took the easier option and was worried about hurting myself (as I frequently did) and thought if I kept at it I'd eventually be able to do the advanced workouts. 

But I stopped doing it, and fell back into my old thinking that I don't 'do' exercise and I'm not at all fit!  But last week a new studio - MG Health & Fitness opened in Protaras and I was invited for a fitness assessment. 

To be honest, I was not really looking forward to it, but I was excited about trying out the large range of classes and thought it was probably a good place to start.   I'm pleased to report I survived....even the run up the hill to test my heart rate with ex-army instructor Mike! Overall the assessment went well, but I clearly need to work on my cardio activity as my heart rate is worse than my Dads!  

Claire and Mike who run the studio are very thorough with the assessment and also go to great lengths to explain that their aim is to advise you on your fitness goal
s but not to try and sell you their classes. They told me what types of exercise I should aim for to improve my general fitness and achieve the goals I set myself and explain how I could do that with or without them.  I do however seem to have agreed to try at least one of every class they run..... including Boot Camp!   (this is not one of my better ideas.... did I mention that Mike is an ex-army instructor!!)

Joking aside, I am looking forward to getting stuck into some regular exercise and I love the community feel of the studio, they have a friendly facebook group and I think will be very successful.  I am aiming to not just lose a few pounds.. although am looking forward to getting into my best jeans, but also to get stronger and healthier.   I'll let you know how I get on!

This is not a sponsored post, I recieved a fitness assessment but have not been asked to write this post, and the views and opinions are all my own. 

Sunday, 6 November 2011

A big kid at heart! - Introducing John Crane and Sevi toys

When I was pregnant and we found out we were having a boy, Aaron was very excited about the future prospect of all the 'boy toys' that he could play with give to Leo. On our first trip to Toy's R Us he had looked quite ill when he was faced with the pink aisle!  Although I was not disappointed at all with the knowledge we were to have a boy, I did look wistfully at all the lovely girls toys which in my mind seemed much 'nicer' compared to the noisy flashing plastic 'fighty' toys that seemed to make up the boys section.

So I'm pleased to see that John Crane Ltd have joined forces with Sevi to distribute their range of gorgeous handmade wooden toys.

There is just something about wooden toys that I love, they are so much more durable and something kids tend to always come back to after each new 'fad' they get caught up in.
Leo would love these, and they appeal to the big kid in me!

To find out more about them, you can visit their website or find them on facebook and twitter.

I was introduced to the company by Blogmatch and received this gorgeous wooden keyring as a thank you for sharing this post with you.

Silent Sunday

Friday, 4 November 2011

First Friends

In the months leading up to our move to Cyprus I spent a lot of time online trying to find out information on all kinds of Cyprus related things and I tried to get an idea of what 'real life' would be like when we arrived. Our apartment was due to be ready the same week Leo was due so it was a big thing to be doing with a small baby - arriving in a country where we knew nothing and no-one.

I often used a very helpful website - Eastern Cyprus Forum  and it was on here that I stalked met my first 'Cyprus' friend, Kelly. I was a bit worried she would think I was a nutter (until I met her that is!!!) as I saw a post she had written in which she said she lived in Derynia and that she was expecting a baby in May just a few days before I was and so I emailed her and said 'Hi, me too!' 

We became 'facebook friends' and over the months 'spoke' to each other quite a bit. Kelly had her baby ( her 4th) 8 weeks early, (Leo was 2 weeks late)  and I'll never forget seeing her in the gorgeous Cyprus sunshine in a tiny white bikini while I was STILL pregnant..... I was not amused!

When we met it seemed like we had known each other for ages as being both addicted to Facebook we knew exactly what we'd been up to.  Kelly has 3 older boys and Leo loved watching them all run around like nutters. In the early days I spent so much time round there he probably thought they were his brothers too!  I used to joke that with so many kids I could probably just leave him there for a bit and she wouldn't notice. 

The boys were great to watch, Steven was always so mellow compared to Leo, I guess that's what having 3 older brothers does for you, Leo used to take everything from him, dummies, toys, biscuits and he usually got it without much fuss. Around the time they started moving though Steven used to get his own back... Leo used to 'commando' crawl everywhere and had Steven used to climb on him and be dragged across the floor as Leo tried to escape!

Kelly had been here 3 years when we arrived, and I have no idea what I would have done without her!  She took me shopping, showed me where to go to get Leo's jabs and check ups and loads of other everyday things.

Steven was Leo's very first friend, the only other baby he had ever spent any length of time with, we used to joke about how they would go out drinking in Agia Napa and chatting up tourists when they were all grown up, and how they would drive her older boys crazy as they tried to join in with what they were up to. Unfortunately Kelly and her family had to move back to the UK in January this year so they've not seen each other since then.  It's a shame that they will not remember they were once best buddies.

Her parents still live here so hopefully one day she will be back for a holiday, Kelly and I still chat online though so we've kind of come full circle!

Kelly's now got her own blog - Life, Love & Babies  - pop over and say hi.
Click the logo above to see what others are looking back on.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful 1,2,3

As Mummy from the heart - Michelle is taking a well deserved blogging break she is once again letting me host her lovely 'Reasons to be Cheerful' (#R2BC) linky.   This is all well and good but means I've had to have a bit of a think to come up with some, after all a 'I'm miserable, if you're not please link up' kind of post would probably mean I wouldn't get to host again!

But, this is exactly the brilliance of the idea, #R2BC is all about taking time to stop and appreciate the good things and since this linky started back at the start of the year there have been several weeks I have joined in and realised that if you think about it, everything is not all bad and there is always something to be cheerful/ thankful for.

So, despite the fact that we are still looking for a job for Aaron, and our bank balance is rapidly decreasing, the fact that Leo seems to be under the impression that 5am is an acceptable time to start the day and the fact that  I cannot fit back into my winter wardrobe, I have decided on the following reasons to be cheerful...

1) Aaron is at home, he is getting to spend a whole lot more time with Leo than he ever has done and Leo is loving having his Daddy around.  It also means that it's a bit easier for me to get stuck into my new job and hopefully soon earn some money!

2) The fact that I cannot get into my jeans has spurred me onto lose the extra bit of weight I gained over the summer. Tomorrow I have a fitness assessment with a new local fitness centre and am starting some exercise classes. I'm looking forward to getting back into a routine (and my clothes!)

I tried to find a good side to all my reasons not to be cheerful but I'm struggling to find one in the 5am wake up calls!

However, in under 2 weeks one of my very good friends is coming to visit and I've only seen her once in the last two years so I'm already very excited about that..... not only is coming to see me, but she is coming with a suitcase of goodies for us which is even better!

So lovely people, I'm sure you can be cheerful if you try......  just write a post and add it too the linky below.  Next week #R2BC will be hosted by Kate on Thin Ice so make sure you pop over and have a look.

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Frequently asked questions

These days it seems that every web site has it's FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions) and sometimes they have just the answer you were looking for. Sometime you wonder why anyone would ask some of them at all, let alone for them to be asked frequently!   That said they are a great idea, after all it gets a bit dull keep repeating the same answers time and time again.

So, I give you 'Emma's FAQs'...

Why did you move to Cyprus?
Honestly, I don't know!  My standard response is 'Why not?'  or 'It seemed like a good idea at the time' and I've said that so many times I can't even come up with a reason that sounds good enough to move across the world.  That's not to say I regret it at all, it's just looking back I can't believe we had the balls!   We didn't really know much about the country when we brought so I think it was pretty much to do with the weather!

When are you coming home?
We are home. This is where we live, we may go on holiday somewhere, and one day we might move somewhere else but right now we have no plans to do either.

Are you going to have any more children?
Probably not, but again I try to 'never say never'  after all I never would have expected to move to Cyprus!

When are you going to send Leo to nursery?
I don't know, I get asked this all the time, as he seems to be the only child in Cyprus not in 'school' but we just don't have the money to send him at the moment. I'm not overly worried (or I wouldn't be if everyone stopped going on about it!) as many people have said he's clever for his age, and he is a sociable little man who gets on pretty well with other kids. He's also picking up bits of Greek as he hears them so I think he'll do fine when he gets there.  
In answer to the question though, sometime next year, probably!

When is Aaron getting his car back?
Who knows!    (The engine blew up just before Christmas last year and since then we've seen it for just 2 weeks - last we heard it is in the capital,Nicosia  waiting for something or other)

When are you going to start working?
I've just started working, are you happy now?     ;)  
Many people (especially in the UK) would ask me when I was going to start work again, it was a bit annoying as it's really quite hard to just find a job out here, unless you are selling shots to drunk tourists or something for 2 euro a night or something daft like that!

Has Aaron found a job?
No, and yes he is looking, no he hasn't gone into every pub looking for bar work, it's November and the season has ended. We are running out of ideas, so if you have any feel free to let us know ;)

How do you have time to write a blog?
I don't do anything else!  There is nothing on TV to watch and blogging has now overtaken my love of reading, I get a lot of stick about it but I am almost permanently on my laptop!

Why do you blog?
Another good question but one I find hard to answer.  I started to keep friends and family updated and to keep a record of our move but it's developed into a real passion of mine. I blog to document our life and Leo's early years, I blog to let people know that 'we' are here in the East of this island in the Med and I blog because I enjoy being part of a online community of such a varied group of people. In my own little way I'm also trying to provide something for our bit of Cyprus, helping to promote local businesses and bring people together.   I don't really have any kind of master plan with it but it's my little bit of Cyberspace and I love it!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Launch of a new lifestyle

Since moving to Cyprus I have done much less exercise than I imagined I would, I am the master of excuses and it turns out having a demanding toddler can be quite a good one, that and 50 deg plus summer temperatures kind of puts you off!   But I do enjoy exercise when I do it regularly and I've been missing my old routine I had back in England before Leo was born, I just find it hard to get motivated on my own. So I'm very pleased to see that help is at hand!

Sunday saw the launch of a brand new health and fitness Centre in the East of Cyprus, MG Health & Fitness situated in Protaras, MG is run by Claire and Michael and today is the official opening.

Offering a huge range of classes,including Yoga / pilates based activites, Zumba, Bootcamp and Box Fit, with more in the pipeline it means there are plenty to choose from. All ages are catered for and I am very pleased to see a great range of classes for all ages of kids, something that is very lacking in this area of Cyprus. 

When I arrived in Cyprus I mourned the fact that I had left a multitude of varied and affordable activities behind in the UK. Here there are very few 'Mum and baby groups' or places to go to meet other Mums with young children so I'm particularly looking forward to introducing Leo to 'Tumblin Tot's' later this week. 

Along with the classes services offered include Personal training, Sports massage therapy and coming soon will be a weight loss management programme.  They also offer a Health and Fitness assessment, a one to one session to determine your current health and fitness level to start you off on the right track, 
  • Verbal assessment on the current lifestyle 
  • Respiratory system check
  • Cardiovascular fitness check
  • Core Strength and stabilisation assessment
  • Postural and flexibility assessment
I have mine booked for Thursday and I'm really looking forward to it.... maybe not so much the results but at least I'll know what I'm facing!   Since I reached my target weight again in May, and then stayed there for about a week I've been aware that I need to increase my activity (oh and probably eat less cake!)

Claire & Mike hope to not only assist people in their health and fitness goals, but to create a welcoming and friendly centre for all nationalities to meet and gain a sense of community

For more details of the classes on offer, prices and to interact with the team and other members head over to their facebook group MG Health & Fitness

The MG team.

This is not a sponsored post, I will be receiving a fitness assessment but have not been asked to write this post, and the views and opinions are all my own. 

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