Wednesday, 29 June 2011

The Gallery - My Weekend

Last weekend was a big one in the blogging world - as a blogger you could not have missed all the excitement of Cybermummy, which for the non-bloggers amongst you is the UK's premier conference for all the Mum bloggers  out there. I would have loved to have gone but there was the slight problem of being in the wrong country!

However, it would have meant that I'd have missed not only Aaron's birthday but one of our very best friends coming to stay.

Martin is the only one so far who has come to see us both in Cyprus more than once, this is because he is able to stack up so many air miles he can get free flights loves us and can't bear to not see us once a year :)

Aaron booked some days of work so we all got to spend the whole weekend together, we drank, ate, drank, went to the pool, drank some more.... you kind of get the picture :)  My parents very kindly looked after Leo so we could go to the beach on our own, it was lovely but a little confusing not having to make sandcastles and dig holes, I read a book but Aaron sat looking a little lost for quite a while!

Leo really enjoyed having his 'Cod-farmer' here (Think that one might just stick - sounds much more exciting than Godfather!) and even asked to see him before Daddy yesterday morning!

Monday was Aaron's actual birthday (and I'm still including it as our weekend was four days long) and we went to a favourite pub of ours, again just the 3 of us as my parents babysat again.

It's becoming quite a regular birthday destination as I first went there last year for a friends birthday and then again in October for mine. It's a great pub, with good food and karaoke, and as a friend of ours works there we always end up with a rather large cocktail to share :)






It was a great night, despite the fact I could have ended up emptying the pub by singing karaoke twice, I'm not a great singer but I often seem to forget this fact. I even sang the very first song lured by the free cocktail on offer for the first to get up!

We had a brilliant few days even though I did suffer yesterday with Leo's 6.30am wake up call, it was all worth it and now we just have the problem of trying to explain to Leo that he won't see him again for a while.... he keeps saying 'Martin on airplane, all gone..... come back now?'


To see if I wasn't the only one not at Cybermummy, click the badge above!

Monday, 27 June 2011

Going Potty - A bloggers guide to Potty Training!

Since Leo was born like most Mothers (I assume!) I have managed to usually find something to be concerned about, from when and where he should sleep, when I should start weaning and with what, how to get him off bottles among many other things I've probably forgotten already. Now we are approaching the time to start potty training and I'm dreading it!

So while on twitter a couple of weeks ago I stared chatting with Jenny from  Mummy Mishaps about how the time was coming for our toddlers to start potty training. A notion which we are both dreading simply because we don't really know what or how to go about doing this for our boys. So we came up with the idea of hosting a Potty Training Carnival - a feature where bloggers who have been through this important toddler development stage, could maybe offer advice of the do's and dont's when it comes to teaching our children how to successfully use a potty.

Thus, Going Potty - the potty training carnival - was born!

*POTTY TRAINING - THE THINGS 'WEE' NEED TO KNOW*

The following bloggers have kindly linked up their tales to share with us of the times when they have gone potty or are going potty with their children:

Mellow Mummy Emma updates us on how potty training is going with her daughter and how bribery is working wonders!

Solnushka tells us how she has ventured outside the family home to potty train her son in order to speed up his departure from nappies in preparation for their move to Russia.

Over at Maris World Marianne reveals the trials and tribulations of potty training twins! She has three fab posts - her mission impossible, now the twins are 2 1/2 years old and how she is going potty!

The Moiderer shares how her clever daughter managed to potty train herself in the end after a few stops and starts

Tiddlyompompom has her own ever so helpful guide to potty training which is sure to raise a smile as well as raise some useful tips.

*POTTY REVIEWS*

The following bloggers kindly reviewed some of the latest and most innovative potties which are available to buy

TheBoyAndMe, although sceptical to begin with, was won over by the Pourty Potty and over at Ramblings Of A Surburban Mummy this potty was also well received.

Lauren from Real Housewife of Suffolk took her My Carry Potty out and about for her review.

Rachel over at InceyWinceyMum had a lot of fun reviewing the Smart Rewards Potty - a potty which sings no less!

*TRAINING PANTS*

Both Lauren at Real Housewife Of Suffolk and Julie highly recommend the fab Cosy Fit Training Pants (and re-usable - yes thats right re-usable!!)

Carolin from Mummy Alarm reviews the new Dry Like Me Pads

*ERIC - FOR PROFESSIONAL HELP WITH POTTY TRAINING*

Do you want further information or assistance overcoming potty training problems?
ERIC is a national children's charity that provides support and information to both children and parents on childhood incontinence problems. They also offer help and support with potty training via their potty training web page.
(This charity also worked alongside the creators of the Dry Like Me Pads)

*GOING POTTY GIVE AWAY*
To round up the potty training carnival Jenny has some great giveaways over on her blog - Pop over to Mummy Mishaps to enter :)

Closing Date for give away is Friday 8th July, 2011.
Good luck!

GOING POTTY WOULD LIKE TO THANK:

The fab on line baby shop - foryourchild.co.uk - which stocks a great selection of potties - including the Pourty Potty, the Smart Rewards Potty and the My Carry Potty (the latter two potties they kindly provided) as well as other potty training related products.
Foryourchild.co.uk is a company set up and run by parents with young children, so they understand the type of products that are useful for a family.

Pourty.com -the company behind the innovative and award winning Pourty Potty:the potty that pours and who provided the pourty potty samples. The website also provides information on potty training boys and girls and when it's best to start.

The kind PR people who helped with the Cosy Training Pants and Dry Like Me samples.

The lovely bloggers who took the time to review the products and link up their Going Potty posts.

I'd also like to thank Jenny herself, as without her this Carnival would not have happened at all! Not only was it her idea in the first place but she did the lion's share of the work - I did create the logo (with her photo *ahem*) but due to other commitments that may have slipped my mind a little (you know, it's easy done - only a big bbq party to arrange, hubby's birthday and a friend to stay for the weekend!) I was unable to dedicate as much time to it.

So Thanks Jenny, you're a star    :)  xxx

C is for... Cyprus

Considering I now live in Cyprus it was a fairly obvious choice for the letter C in my series of A to Z posts. We've now been here 18 months and it feels like I've been here forever. We took a big risk in moving, and went against all kinds of sensible advice of the type you read online about moving abroad. I don't regret anything we did (apart from maybe spending a bit too much money in the first few months!) although I'd have to revert to the same advice that I read so often to anyone else thinking of doing the same thing!

Advice such as, make sure you have a job (or adequate funds to live on for a year) before you arrive. Rent for a year before buying so you are sure which area you want to live in and visit at different times of the year as winter in Cyprus is very different to summer. Although we did none of those things looking back we have been very lucky, I know of others here who did similar things but have been here a while and jobs may have been easier to come by a few years ago when they moved over.

They say 'it's not what you know, it's who you know' and that is so true here. I had 'met' a girl online before we moved and spent 6 months getting to know her online, her husband played on the local pool team and when we arrived Aaron joined them, through them we met a lot of people and by word of mouth and recommendation he found a very good job.

We got lucky in some respects with the location of our apartment as we didn't know the area at all, but we didn't want to live in a 'tourist area' and we were advised well by the sales agent when we specified the kind of thing we were looking for. Our village Derynia is only a short drive from the resorts of Protaras, and Agia Napa but far enough away that you experience normal 'everyday' life. 

Contrary to popular belief we are not on a permanent holiday, yes there are many holiday aspects to it but we still have real life to contend with. Long working hours for Aaron, cars breaking down (and taking nearly 6 months to repair) and the joys of housework and toddler tantrums to name just a few, and all that sometimes in a temperature that is so hot you can hardly breathe. 

 I wouldn't change it for the world though, every day I'm glad we did it. I've said before the grass is not greener on the other side (there's not enough rain for it to be!) but it is different and it wouldn't suit everyone but for us it is just great.


Friday, 24 June 2011

Flashback Friday - Leo's first holiday!

A couple of weeks ago for Flashback Friday I was looking back to our days spent messing about on the canal. Although my favourite times were in the pre baby, drinking all night days we had a surprisingly good 10 days aboard with a 5 month old Leo for his very first holiday.


I was a little worried about how we would get on, especially as there were usually at least 3 of us on board making it much easier to work the locks, I was concerned about reaching a lock at feed time and if would would be able to cope with just the two of us.  It turned out to be just fine, in fact it was very good for us and him as he slept through the night for the first time ( and carried on when we got home) and was left to his own devices a little more than usual where we were so busy.

It was going so well...

This was the first and only time we used Leo's baby carrier, aside the fact that I had a bad back and Aaron has a dodgy shoulder and Leo has always been heavy just after this photo was taken we were put off using it for life....

It should have been a great idea, Leo fell asleep straight away leaving me free to get off to operate the locks without Aaron having to worry if he cried. (something I think we worried about far too much - it's not like he could have gone anywhere!) as while he couldn't get him while he was driving, however Aaron soon realised there was a rather unpleasant smell wafting up right in front of him.

Yep, it was nappy change time and I think the most unpleasant one to date! Not only that but due to the sling it was everywhere it could possibly be, the worst nappy incident that ever happened!


It was a very well timed holiday as it would be a total nightmare now he is walking, but I hope one day when he is old enough to understand and join in with everything that we will go again.

Monday, 20 June 2011

A devoted Dad.

In honour of Father's Day yesterday (and the fact that I didn't actually get my lovely Dad a present)  I thought I'd have a rummage through some old photos, as you know I love my old photos and as excuses to look at them go I figured this was a very good one!

As far as I can recall, I have always got on very well with my Dad even in my teenage years! I was (in my opinion anyway) a very well behaved teenager, there were not too many rules for me to follow and I was always worried about getting into to trouble with him - so worried that I never really did so I still have no idea what the punishment would have been!

I never lied but I may have 'bended the truth' on occasion, at the time I was very pleased with myself for getting away with whatever it was but now I realise he never fell for it!  At 16 he picked me up at the end of an evening and asked me if I had been drinking, I said no to which he replied 'I can smell alcohol on your breath'  After feigning confusion I replied 'Ah, you see what it was Dad, there were some older boys there (friends brother's) and they were drinking and I had just a mouthful of their beer'  He just replied "oh OK then, as long as it was just a mouthful'   :)

It still makes me laugh that the only time I blatantly disobeyed him was the day I eventually passed my driving test, I wanted to go out in my car which he had brought some time before and he said he would rather I didn't as it was dark......... WHAT! I'd been waiting forEVER to go and drive, that is soooooo unfair!  I thought about it for a bit and was so outraged and disappointed that I just thought, No,  I'm not listening, I'm doing it anyway, what makes it funny to me is the way I told him...

I went and stood in front of him and said 'Ok, so I have a driving license so I can officially drive, yes?, the car outside is legally mine, and I'm 18 (18, can you believe I was even having the conversation at 18!) so you can't actually stop me doing anything, right?'  He agreed with me so I said 'Ok, bye then, I'll be going out in my car now'!

To be fair, I can understand that he didn't want me to go out to the pub (wouldn't have drank though) in the dark when I had never driven at night but I still stand by my reaction!

So, no complaints really Dad, and Happy Father's Day for yesterday  xxx

Friday, 17 June 2011

21st Century Friendships

It's no secret that I love facebook, I have more contact with some people now than I actually did before leaving the country, although is it debatable how close that contact is, it is very easy to 'like' someone's status or leave a quick comment on a photo but are you really connecting with that person?  I'm not sure if at times it reduces the likelihood of a 'real life contact of a meeting in person or even a phone call. I get birthday wishes from people who I haven't seen for 10 or 20 years and you know it's not because the date is etched into their mind - it's the oh so handy reminder they get when they log on to facebook on that day, but it's people that I would not have been in contact with before facebook.

The Internet may give people an excuse not to see people but social networking sites can be a lifeline, before moving to Cyprus I 'met' a fellow ex-pat Brit and we were 'facebook friends' for almost a year before we met in real life. When we eventually met it seemed like we'd known each other for ages already!  Now I'm 3000 miles away from most of my family and friends I can pop online and find out how they are and what they're up to, and with the addition of Skype we can keep in contact with ease.

But I do feel it can make us lazy, a comment on a photo of a birthday cake is not the same as a handwritten card chosen with care and a 'LOL'  is not the same as actually laughing out loud in the pub with your friends, but when you are not able to do it in person it is certainly better than nothing in my opinion.

Even though you might not see some people much, or even for years the fact that you have the chance to easily keep in contact means you feel like you've not been apart for very long at all, many people knock facebook and other sites but I think they are worth their weight in gold.

NIVEA  are marking their 100th birthday and they are celebrating a million moments of closeness with a fab competion to win one of 100 prizes of 100 pounds - all you have to do is upload a photo of closeness and psychologist Professor Geoff Beattie will pick a winner every day. You can join the competition on their facebook page.

They believe that modern technology has brought us closer than ever  and are looking for your views in their Feel Closer debate, do you think the internet is helping our relationships or is it giving us an excuse not to see people?

This is a Sponsored Post
Viral video by ebuzzing

101 in 1001 - the next 6 months


Although I started my 101 list last July it's only recently that I've joined forces with Sarsm and the others and their update posts. As I have already completed several items off my list I decided to do a round up of the things I'd ticked off in the first 6 months.

I realised there were quite a few, and now it's June I'm almost a year into the challenge!

This year I've ticked off several more so it's still going well. My parents moved over here in March so I made sure their apartment was ready for them and then not long after they arrived I finally got to take them to Cape Greko and Konnos Beach. They also very kindly brought me over a new mobile phone (no.99)

I wanted to inspire someone to make their own 101 list, and had achieved that when a friend of mine started his own. and then of course I later found out that I had inspired more!

I wrote a guest post for The Five F's blog back in March and I got to 100 followers on my blog! I also started a facebook group for Mum's in East Coast Cyprus to try and bring everyone together and give everyone a bit of support.

For a long while I had been really worried about getting Leo off his bottles but I did last month and it was nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be.

Leo turned 2 last month and we had a great party, so I finally got round to making a playlist of children's party music, it's all very well but now he asks for 'Happy birthday' song every day!

There are several other items on the list that are in progress or I am planning on doing very soon, I'll keep you updated as they happen.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Fantastic Fish

Last weekend I was very lucky to escape the demands of an over heated toddler and have some time to myself at the Home of Holistics in Agia Napa. I've always loved any kind of spa treatment I could treat myself to and was very excited to see in a local magazine that they have just opened a new Fish Spa. It's something I'd only recently heard of via updates on Facebook from friends in the UK who had tried it and Home of Holistics are the only place in Eastern Cyprus which now offer the treatment.

My husband was highly amused when I told him what I was going to do as I don't like people touching my feet, I disagreed - well, for a start I don't mind people touching my feet as such just not tickling them.... and they are fish not people! I had been intrigued by the idea of it for a while now and even put it on my 101 list.

For those of you who don't know this treatment first originated in Turkey and is practised all over the Far East. It uses Garra rufa fish which exfoliate and massage your feet. They gently nibble away dead skin cells and can also stimulate acupuncture points, which is relaxing and improves circulation.



It was a bit ticklish at first but after a minute or so felt just like I had my feet in a jacuzzi with very tiny jets! I was very reassured to be told that the fish have no teeth and will not bite only nibble away at the dead and dry skin! It was absolutely fascinating to watch and that was relaxing in itself. After the treatment I could see a noticeable difference in the smoothness of my feet (which do suffer due to living in flip flops for several months at a time!)

I was very impressed with the salon and the procedures they use to ensure both the hygiene to the clients and the well-being of the fish.  I'd certainly go back again although with indecision as I picked up a leaflet on the way out and noticed all the other lovely treatments to choose from and it would take me a while to pick which one I wanted!


 *I received a fish spa treatment but no payment for writing this article - the views and opinions are my own. 

Monday, 13 June 2011

Going Potty!

Whilst on twitter a couple of weeks ago I started chatting with Jenny from Mummy Mishaps about how the time was coming up for our toddlers to start potty training, a notion which we are both dreading simply because we don't really know what or how to go about doing this with our boys.

So Jenny came up with the idea of hosting a Potty Training Carnival - a feature where parents who have been through this could maybe offer advice on the do's and don't s when it comes to teaching our children how to successfully  use a potty. Maybe some of you who are currently going through this training could offer your thoughts on how it is going. Maybe like Jenny and I you are thinking it is time to start your own potty training and have no idea how to start either, therefore using this carnival like us.

We welcome your funny stories, your successes as well as your failings or maybe an amusing photo with a story behind it. We would be grateful for any information you can give and be prepared to share with others.

So please help Jenny and I from Going Potty alone and send your posts to: jennypaulin@me.com and please cc emmamartin77@hotmail.com. If you could please enusre all articles reach us no later than Saturday 25th June. 

** Please could you also copy and paste our Going Potty badge at the top of your post - Thank you**

Our Going Potty Carnival will be live on our blogs on Monday 27th June. We will be hopefully hosting a fab competition too.

Thank you and we look forward to receiving your entries.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

New life = New language

It is often said you can do anything if you set your mind to it. It's been said to me many times and a friend of mine once told me that I was really good at doing 'big things' I have found though that for me there has to be something to help me get my head into it, when I lost weight I could never have done it without Slimming World even though I really wanted to do it and when I started blogging it was the linkups and memes that really got me in the swing of things.

So I am very excited to have received my copy of Rosetta Stone's Greek Language course, I think this will be the catalyst that gets me in the habit of scheduling regular slots of time to do the lessons and finally progress my knowledge of Greek beyond "Hello, two beers please, thank you"

Rosetta Stone has recently launched the next generation of its language software - Version 4 TOTALe (pronounced tow-tally) I have been lusting after this product for a while as I had several years ago had used a previous version and not only picked up a fair bit (which left my head with the arrival of 'babybrain') but unlike many of the other language books/cds/software I actually enjoyed using it.

The reason it works so well for me is what they call the 'Dynamic Immersion method' which means you learn your new language in the same way you learnt your first one. There is no translation or memorisation and it teaches you to think in your new language by connecting the words you are hearing with the images on the screen in different contexts,  eg. The man has the ball / the man is throwing the ball.

After receiving the product yesterday I spent the rest of the day trying to tire Leo out so I could get stuck in after his bedtime. I loaded it all up and was immediately impressed with the differences between the older version and this one.   I have Levels 1, 2 and 3 which comes with a microphone and headset, it was really easy to set up, especially once I had stopped trying to type in the wrong activation code (I spent 20 minutes swearing at my laptop until I realised I was trying to type in a completely different thing to the number with 'activation code written next to it - turns out 'babybrain has not left yet!)

I did the first lesson, and got 98% - check me out I'll be down the local taverna chatting with the locals before you know it :)

Another difference to the previous versions is the online features which due to a very hot and unsettled toddler yesterday evening I am yet to discover - hopefully I'll be delving into them over the weekend!

I'm so excited to be starting a proper plan of action for learning, especially as Leo is picking up so many new words every day, and as I learn more I can teach him new words in both languages.  Just by having the audio companion CD playing this morning he was repeating words from it, completely unprompted by me and as it's very child friendly when he learns to stop hitting my laptop with things we can do the program together!

Amatterofchoice




*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.

Silent Sunday



Silent Sunday

Friday, 10 June 2011

A narrow escape

One of the very few things I miss about England is the canals, although it pains me a little to say it as it means Aaron is right again!

His family have been big fans of narrow boating for years, they owned a boat before I met him and several years ago brought another. In the last couple of years Aaron and I went out on it many times, with various friends and once just the two of us, although that's much harder work without a 'crew' to help with the locks!

I was very surprised how much I enjoyed it even in the rain, it turns out rain is not actually that bad if you are dressed for it which until boating I never really had been!  Aaron had always described time on the boat as a '4 mile per hour pub crawl' but to be honest I thought it sounded a little dull - I'm all for pub crawls (or being lazy more likely to find one and stay there!) but I'd never had any big yearning to spend time in the countryside, especially given the fact it was bound to be cold and raining on whatever weekend we chose to go.


But even on the times we had bad weather (which were surprisingly few) the days we spent on the boat was some of the best time I've spent.


The boat was moored at Harefield which was just over an hours drive from home so it was easy to pop up for the weekend, and if we timed it with a bank holiday for a day off it felt like a week's holiday! It always amazed me how 2 or 3 days on the canal could seem like so much longer. It's a complete contradiction of things relaxing and exhausting at the same time, we were usually too hot or too cold depending on how close you were to the fire, and usually damp and dirty  until you could get home and have a shower.  No matter how much you ate and drank (which was always lots) you worked so hard that you never put on a pound :)

One weekend we had such a stressful journey to the marina but with in minutes of being on board we were moving and I was sat outside on the front of the boat with one of my best friends, with a jug of pimms and and the sun setting - relaxed in seconds!

I can't pick out one particular trip as being the best because they all had so many good points, cruising along at 4 miles an hour with plenty of beers on board and good friends - what could be better!



Written as part of Cafe Bebe's Flashback Friday
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Wednesday, 8 June 2011

It's all Greek to me

When we decided we were moving to Cyprus, one of the first things I did was start learning Greek as it's very important to me to learn the language of the country I'm living in. I brought several books and CDs to teach myself from although I may have been working on the assumption if I brought enough I'd magically learn the language over night as I have so many I could probably open a library!

Greek is obviously not as popular a language to learn as say French or German and I spent a long time trying to find an evening course in my area. I did eventually find one and enrolled. Although it was enjoyable and I learnt a fair amount it was expensive for the amount of time spent in lessons. The course was split into two terms, payable separately and I was unable to complete it due to a certain little man being born right in the middle!

I carried on at home, trying to learn in amongst the night feeds and nappy changes and assumed it would be easier once we had moved to Cyprus and I was among native speakers but I was wrong! Although Aaron works with Cypriots and hears the language every day, all my friends here are also British ex-pats, and although a few speak a little Greek we don't speak it to each other. Up until now I have spent less time trying to learn the language than I did in the UK!

It won't be long until Leo goes to school and he will be learning Greek and overtaking my knowledge very quickly - this is not good, not knowing what he is talking about is asking for all sorts of trouble!

I know the alphabet and can read the language (except really long words!) and I know the some of the basics but as 'tourist Greek' will not get me very far it's time I stepped up the learning and then I'll also be able to tick another item of my 101 list!

I plan to ensure I make time to learn, and I will be teaching myself at home with some software which I should be receiving very soon  (dependant on the very friendly but not always that fast Cyprus postal system!)  I have used an older version of this software before and found it very helpful so am really looking forward to getting stuck in the the new one.

I'll be documenting my experiences of learning the language and how I get on using it and about in a new series of posts - 'It's all Greek to me' so you can see how I get on.

Amatterofchoice

Monday, 6 June 2011

101 in 1001 - The First 6 months


Since joining up with some Sarsm and some other bloggers completing their own 101 lists I agreed it would be good to join in with their update posts, and as I haven't done one since I started I thought look back over the things I've done so far.

I started my list in July last year, and the first item I completed was to become an official resident of Cyprus. I then had a quite couple of months but ticked off two in one night in October when I sang karaoke on my birthday and went to Car Wash in Agia Napa. I also took Leo to his first Halloween party which was also on the list.

In September we finalized our wills, applied for our VAT rebate and Child benefit all in one go, the first two were quite straight forward but the child benefit was hard work - I think I must have been so stressed about it I couldn't bring myself to blog about that one!

December was another good month for the list as we had a good friend to visit and not only did we visit the church on the hill, we also met up with more friends and went for a traditional Cypriot Meze.I took Leo to see Father Christmas (although it didn't go very well so I'll try again this year!)  Just before Christmas I also completely filled our wine rack.

I think I made a good start last year, I'll let you know how I've been getting on so far this year next week...


If you have a 101 list we'd love you to join us, either link you page to us here or follow us all on Twitter

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Listography - Decisions

The listography this week has been inspired by Christine Mosler who made the very admirable decision to travel to Mozambique to raise awareness of Save the Childrens "No child born to die' campaign. In her honour Kate is asking us to share the 'Top 5 Decision's We're Glad We Made'

I'm terrible about making decisions, but strangely it's the little ones that cause me the most problems...
What to eat, what to wear, whether to watch a film or not, I could go on and on. But looking back I've made some massive decisions with much less debate!

Off the top of my head I can't think of any really bad decisions I've made to do with anything important, I won't give it much more thought in case I do and then I'll be annoyed!

The best decisions I've ever made....

1. Moving to Cyprus, it's only a small exaggeration if I said I've spent longer deciding on an outfit  but moving to Cyprus was without a doubt the best one I ever made. If I had thought about it too much I probably would not have had the balls to do it.



2. Joining Slimming World, I was once over 15 stone and without Slimming World I'd probably be even bigger as that was before I'd had Leo. Because of that one decision (which again I just suddenly did without lots of debate) I lost just over 4 stone.

3. Moving to Gravesend, if you know Gravesend I realise this does sound like a strange thing to choose as one of the best decisions I've ever made, but I moved there to live with my ex-boyfriend who is now my husband when really most normal people would have just got on with their lives and found a new one!  Oh, and now I think about it, I decided to do that one afternoon sitting in a pub with said ex-boyfriend/hubby when I had decided to stop seeing him at all and then suddenly he suggested renting a room off him and I said OK and moved out 2 weeks later!

If I had not have moved to Gravesend I do not think I would have ended up marrying him eventually!

4. Dropping out of college - I left college before the end of my course to work full time in a supermarket, not the best career move but the next couple of years were so much fun. The course I was doing was a GNVQ in Leisure and Tourism and I wanted to live in the sun work in the travel industry. Obviously I didn't get the qualification but several years later managed to get a job in a travel agents and therefore didn't need it anyway!

5. Learning to drive - I failed my first test and then on my 2nd  my car wouldn't start so it was cancelled. I was not looking forward to my test at all, convinced I would fail again. I also wanted to learn in an automatic as I thought it would be easier but my Dad wouldn't let me! I passed on my 2nd test (the second 2nd test, first one doesn't count as we didn't even start the car!).

Without my car I wouldn't have been able to live the kind of life I have since I was 18, visiting friends all over the place and having my independence.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Flashback Friday - Sweet Sixteen?

Growing up I was lucky enough to have several foreign holidays with my parents, when I was 16 however although excited about going abroad I was less then enthusiastic about 2 weeks stuck in Minorca with my parents! At that time I was out every day and  most nights (ah those were the days!) I was drinking, smoking and generally not spending too much time with my Mum and Dad. 

The night before the holiday I sat in the pub with my friends (yes I know at 16!) and I was actually envious of my friends who would be out that weekend, I was not looking forward to 2 weeks of not drinking and I expected it to be boring.

I was wrong, it was a great holiday and not boring at all. Well, it may have been a little more fun to my 16 year old self if I'd been with my friends but that was to come the following year in Kavos, Corfu!   The photo above was taken in the Sahara bar and is one of my favourite photos of all time, much to my Mum's disgust :)

A couple of days into the holiday, after nights of me hanging over the balcony smoking after parents had gone to bed trying to not get caught or drop ash on the floor. My Dad offered me a cigarette, I was a little confused in case it was a trick but went for it anyway. He had spanish ciggarettes - Ducados and they were awful. I told him so and he laughed, Mum looked on disapprovingly (which is fair enough!) and good ol' Dad threw some pesetas across the table and told me to go and get some Benson's "if you must".

We did have a laugh in the Sahara bar every night, we drank cocktails and sang karaoke, Dad and I doing a duet of Neil Sedka's 'Oh Carol'  - a great compromise as at the time I used to listen to a (rubbish) reggae version of it so I knew the words!  The first person to sing every night got a free bottle of (cheap and nasty) champagne and as the bar was quite empty at that time we jumped up first every night!

Now days I genuinely enjoy spending time with my parents, in fact I'm looking forward to a night out with them in a karaoke place very soon!


Thursday, 2 June 2011

Playdough Playtime!

When it comes to art and crafts activities (in other words messy) activities I must admit I'm not the most enthusiastic of mothers. I have very little patience and this does not sit well with short toddler attention spans and an very independent little man who doesn't like to be helped with anything!

I'm trying to make much more of an effort with introducing new activities so when I saw a playdough recipe in this months Daxi Magazine (local lifestyle magazine here in Cyprus) I thought it would be a good place to start.

I've only made playdough once and it didn't really go to plan, may have been the heat here but after just a few minutes of playing it turned into a big sticky mess, this recipie however was excellent and really easy to make.

All you need is
2 cups Plain flour
1 cup fine sea salt
2tblsp Cream of tartar
2tblsp sunflower oil
5 drops lavender essential oil (I didn't have any so used vanilla for a nice fragrance instead)
2 cups water
Food colouring

Making it is simple - measure all the dry ingredients (sieve flour to remove any lumps) then in a heatproof bowl add the oils and 2 cups of boiling water. Mix well until it forms a ball.
Add the food colouring (wearing rubber gloves is strongly advised!) and knead the dough until it's all mixed in.
Store in an airtight container and if it dries you can re-hydrate it by adding a couple of drops of water.


It was a definite hit with Leo, we played for over half an hour with it before he wanted to mush it into the sofa! I planned to take some video of him rolling and 'squidging' but he kept saying 'cheese (camera) away, Mummy play)

So we did, he laughed his head off as he squidged the dough between his fingers and liked making 'wiggly worms' by rolling long thin pieces. His favourite thing though was to make heart and star shapes with some cutters.

I even managed to get him to put it nicely back in the box without a fight when he had decided there had been enough playing for now. (although I may have promised lunch when it had all been put away!)

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

The Gallery - Grateful

In honour of the Save the Children campagin to make a lot of noise to raise awareness of the need for vaccination for all children ahead of the global summit on June 13th this week's Gallery prompt is I'm Grateful for...

I'm grateful for many things, especially the fact that we live in a part of the world where we have access to medical care and vaccinations for our children. (even if you have to learn a new way of going about all of that stuff in a new and often confusing country) I'm grateful that I have a gorgeous happy and healthy little boy who makes me pull my hair out thankful every day. I'm grateful for our big mortgage lovely home and for my husband who works so hard to look after us, and my parents who also do so much to help. 

This post is is danger of getting a bit gushy.... don't worry... I've not gone soft,

This may not be in the true spirit of the prompt but right now I am grateful for this...


Thank the lord, he's gone to sleep! 

It is an old picture, I'd take another one but I cannot bear taking the risk of waking him up!

Please go and sign Save the children's petition and give other Mum's the chance to have their babies grow into toddlers that drive them crazy :)  

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