Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Greek 4 Kids - Our lessons so far

As you probably know I'm in the (slow!) process of learning Greek and since Leo started to talk we've been trying to teach him what we know.  He knows his colours and numbers in both languages along with a few random things in Greek but I still would like him to know more.  I know he will pick it up at school, many British children here go to school knowing no Greek whatsoever and apparently get on fine but I'd like him to have a reasonable idea of what's going on when he gets there and not struggling through trying to work out what to do and what everyone is saying!  

My biggest reason to learn Greek is due to Leo - I intend to be able to read the letters that come from school and know what he is talking about when he comes home!

Greek for KidsFor some time I've been a big fan of the 'Greek 4 Kids' blog and was really pleased when the classes were launched in Protaras earlier this month.  Aimed at children age 3 and up (3 ish - Leo's not 3 until May!) the classes are full of fun for kids, stories, songs, crafts and games in Greek so they are learning the language without really noticing!

We've been to four classes so far and we are loving them - I've been staying with Leo at the moment but the plan is to leave him soon.  The others at the class as also under 3, a bit younger than Eri usually takes so I'm not the only Mum there.  It's helping my Greek too as I manage to understand about half of what is said!

It's so good for Leo who despite a bit of reluctance at the initial class is now really enjoying them and not wanting to leave at the end! I'm interested to see how he progresses as the weeks go on, he can be very vocal about what he wants to do and not do and it would be nice if he would do as he is told!   He's never been in a school / organised group situation before so it's all new to him and he doesn't get that it's 'not all about him'!    - Another reason I'm glad we are going here before school!

The classes are really helping us, not only is he now saying a lot more Greek words at home but it's reminding me to say more to him, like 'please' and 'thank you' in Greek too, its all too easy to forget and only speak English as that's all we've known for so long!

This NOT a sponsored post - we attend the lessons and really like them, so just sharing our experience!   Greek 4 Kids also have lessons in Larnaca and Nicosia - see the blog or facebook page for more info.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Carnival and Green Monday

Today we went to Paralimni, our local town to watch the Carnival parade - our first since coming to Cyprus. I love that the Cypriots know how to party, and therefore Carnival is a season rather than a day!  It is held in the 10 days leading up to Lent in several main towns around the country (and in particular Limassol).  Carnival is also influenced by Ancient Greek traditions where celebrations were held in honour of the God Dionysus.

Leo was not impressed while we were there, I think he was a little overwhelmed by the crowds and he kept saying it was too loud. He did however say when we got home that he had a lovely time at 'the canibal!'   There were certainly a whole lot of people there - I was amazed at all the people on all the roofs around the main square!

Tomorrow is a bank holiday in Cyprus 'Καθαρά Δευτέρα'  (Kathara Deftera)  Clean Monday, or  Green Monday as it's more commonly known.  It is a feast day which is always 7 weeks before the Orthodox Easter Sunday and marks the start of Lent.   The 'Clean' comes from the idea of leaving behind 'sinful attitudes and non fasting foods.

image credit: Wikipedia
Many Cypriots celebrate with picnics and barbecues. . I've not tried it myself but there is a special kind of bread which is baked on this day called 'Lagana'  There is also a widespread tradition of kite flying.

On our first Green Monday in 2010 we went to a beach BBQ. It was however a typically English BBQ as we *may* not have stuck to the 'no meat rule'  but there were no Orthodox Cypriots there to offend by it, maybe a vegetarian or too though!

Flashback Friday - Week 2

Last week saw the return of Flashback Friday - a photo link up inviting you to dig deep in the archives and wallow in a bit of nostalgia.  I was pleased to see that I'm not the only one who likes to reminisce and that we had 7 bloggers joining in.

I hope you'll all come back next Friday, and maybe we're find a few more joining in along the way. To help you out I decided to give you a theme each week - feel free to interpret them as you see fit!

This week the theme is Home.

Your childhood home, your first home, maybe somewhere you spent so much time as a child it became your second home as just a couple of ideas for you.

If you want to join in, choose your photo / photos, write your post and come back on Friday to link up. The linky will stay open until the following Thursday for you to add your posts.  If you're linking up please visit as many of the other posts and see what they've come up with too.

If you wish, you can grab the code for the  badge to display on your post, the important part though is to come back and add your post to the linky, then visit some of the others for a lovely nostalgia fest!

Grab my button
and join in

Project 52 - Spring's on its way

Spring is on it's way - there was actually a lovely bit of warmth to that sun this week when you got out the wind!

Surprisingly winter can seem like a long time in Cyprus, especially if you are two! Although shorter in length than in the UK, there suddenly becomes a lot less to do when you don't want to go outside. Add to the fact that Leo refuses to wear a coat it really cuts down your options!

This week we ventured out, finally exploring somewhere I've been meaning to go since we got here over 2 years ago!   Landa Beach, in Agia Napa is a lovely little golden sandy bay - especially at this time of year when you can actually see the sand and not a mass of holiday makers! There is a large picnic area and a playground (well, some swings, a see-saw and the words steepest slide) and a nice paved beach path taking you along to the next bay.

As usual with our outings we were not out long, just over an hour (including two sandwich breaks!) before Leo refused to walk anymore and wanted to go back to the car, but it was good to get out and remember how much we love the local scenery.   Leo said he had lots of fun too.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Sunshine on a rainy day

One thing we do see a lot of here at this time of year is rainbows, I think I've seen more in Cyprus than I've seen in my whole life, it might not rain that often but when it does the sun is not usually far behind so it's a quite a common occurrence at this time of year.

Leo loves seeing the rainbows, and we often see fantastic ones from our balcony. He doesn't understand that they don't always appear and is disappointed when they don't, I explained that you have to have sunshine and rain, and there was no sun that day, so we made our own.

We painted a plate, I'd like to say he did but as ever he did a couple of brush strokes and then wanted to watch me!  I did just about manage to get him to allow me to draw round his hand though for the 'sun's rays' - I think it would have been a bit odd with my hands!   When the plate was dry 'we' stuck the hands around the edge, the sun was going to have a smiley face but Leo informed me 'that would be a bit silly' so we left it at that!

We had made a rainbow not long ago but Leo enjoyed (watching me) make it so much that he's asked several times if we can do it again.  This time was a little more successful and he enjoyed sorting out the colours and putting the glue on, he even stuck most of them on the paper too!

Friday, 24 February 2012

Flashback Friday - Week 1

It's back,  My favourite linky and it's now hosted by yours truly, thanks to Cafe Bebe who has kindly passed it over to me, Thanks Karin!

The idea is simple, find a photo from time gone by, it can be a year ago or much longer and then share the picture and  relive the memory. From next week I'll help you out and give you a prompt to give you a starting point but for now I'll leave it up to you.

I'm going back to my baby days, as they were taken at the same time as the photo I used for the new Flashback Friday badge.

Summer 1978...
I love the expression on my face, it seems I wasn't impressed about Mum walking away while I had my picture taken!

Obviously I don't remember the day, I don't personally remember the place either, but I know it was taken in the communal garden of the flat we lived in at the time.  We moved out when I was two.

Mum always said how happy she was when we moved and had our very own garden, and front door. We lived on the 3rd floor... with NO lift, as my she always likes to point out!

I don't blame her though, we live on the 2nd floor now but we have a lift -I did think of her during all the power cuts last year, baby + buggy + shopping and no lift is not fun! At least I could try and time the shopping around the cuts!

I wasn't always that grumpy though, I found a happy smiley baby photo too...

Thursday, 23 February 2012

The Wide Mouthed Frog

Many years ago in our first house on one of our many late night (undoubtedly slightly drunken!) conversations with our housemates and assorted friends, we came to swapping random and probably quite silly jokes  - someone mentioned the 'Wide Mouthed Frog' and although most knew the punchline no-one could remember the joke for the life of them.    I have no idea why but I remember laughing hysterically at Aaron's delivery of the punchline, despite never the fact I had no idea of the original joke.

It became a standing joke - just the line 'Ooh, you don't see many of those around do you?'   and still years on we didn't know the rest of it. ( See, this is what happened without Google, in writing this post I searched and found it here)

Moving on to a couple of weeks ago, I saw that Bloomsbury have published the book for children!

After all these years, we just HAD to have it!

It was a huge hit with Leo, sat enthralled through the entire book and then rolled around laughing at the end  - ok, this may have been due to the fact I could hardly say the line without creasing up myself.   When we finished it, I asked him if he liked the new book, he paused for a second and then shouted 'AGAIN'  Which I took to mean a sure sign of approval!

In just 24 hours, I've now lost count of the amount of times we've read it. It was the last thing we did before bed yesterday and the first thing he asked for this morning, it's a good job I like the book too!

It's a brilliant book, colourful, witty and the way the frog's mouth closes at the end when he pretends not to be a 'wide mouth frog' is great, I think this is going to be a long running favourite in our house.


We recieved a copy of 'The Wide Mouthed Frog' for review purposes but our opinions are our own.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

A green and pleasant landscape

When I saw this weeks Gallery prompt  Landscapes, I initially thought of the huge selection of landscape photos I've got, taken in the last couple of years since we've been in Cyprus.   While trying to choose one from the collection of sea shots. beach shots and balcony views (which I have a surprising amount of considering it doesn't really change much!)  a photo from a long time ago suddenly popped into my head.

I took this back in the early 90s, we were on holiday just outside of Ryde on the Isle of Wight and this was the view from the front door of our holiday chalet.  When we got home and collected our photos from being developed   (as much as I love digital photography, I really do miss the excitement of collecting your photos and looking through them in the shop as you can't wait until you get home!)  I was really pleased with how it had turned out, I was even more pleased when my parents got it enlarged and put it on the wall with some of the landscape shots my Dad (an ex-photographer) had taken.

I was also very impressed that on phoning my Mum this week and describing the photo she managed to locate it in under 20 minutes from not even thinking we still had it!


Monday, 20 February 2012

Life is a Journey - Old School Portrait

Continuing with playing catch up on the 'Life is a Journey' prompts from Save Every Step, the next prompt is Old School Portrait.

The official school photo was always taken around by birthday, in fact in some of the early photos from Primary school you can see my 'birthday badge' -  you got one if your birthday fell on a school day.  Looking back at my school photos, some are obviously better than others, the early ones are cute and the last one is not too bad but there are some in the middle which are not so good!

I even voluntarily printed these pictures to put on the wall at my 25th 'School disco' party!

I've recently got all my childhood photos in digital form as my Mum has scanned them all in, I've spent ages now (although not as long as she did!) backing them all up and storing them online, I'm very excited now about having easy access to them all and having a play around with editing and collage making (my new favourite obsession in case you hadn't noticed!)

 I'm pleased we have such a great record of things for Leo and future generations to look over as they grow up thanks to my Mum who has spent so much time compiling it all.   Not only has she hundreds of photos (all dated) but she has completed a mammoth task in making books for each family member going back generations consisting of photos, documents and stories.

Like me, Leo already loves looking at photos he will sit for ages next to me as I show him them on my laptop telling who everyone is, or where it was taken, one of his favourite things is a small photo album of pictures of me as a baby which my Mum had given to my Grandad at the time so I'm sure in later life he will appreciate the rest of it.

If you are also a fan of family memories, don't forget to pop back on Friday and link up to Flashback Friday, you can read all about it here - Flashback Friday returns.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Project 52 - 'The Tootin' tube!'

A cardboard tube can be many thing but they will now always be known as a 'tootin' tube'.... that is a tube for tootin'!   Just like Thomas..... 'Toot TOOT'

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Friday, 17 February 2012

Flashback Friday returns!

Flashback Friday is coming back!

Last year the highlight of my blogging week was Cafe Bebe's Flashback Friday and I was very sad to see the end of it, so I'm very pleased to say that Karin asked me if I'd like to take it over, of  course I said yes!

I love old photos and stories, from as long as I can remember I badgered my Mum into showing me the family photo albums again and again and I love to see other peoples photos and hear the stories behind them.  Flashback Friday is a way of sharing those moments, ones that you probably would have blogged about if you'd been able to.  A way of remembering the little things that often get forgotten about through the years and a way of bringing those old photos to life for yourself and maybe the next generation. 

Next week I will be opening up the linky and I'd love you to join in and share your photos, it can be a picture of you as a child, your parents, or even your Great Grandparents, from last year or from much further back, highdays and holidays or any day in between.   Anything you fancy as long as it takes us back in time. 

If you wish, you can grab the code for the  badge to display on your post, the important part though is to come back and add your post to the linky, then visit some of the others for a lovely nostalgia fest!

Grab my button
and join in

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother - Book Review

Although I'd heard of the expression 'Tiger Mother' I didn't know much about the book that it came from. I somehow had missed the huge controversial debate that happened after it's release.

'Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother' by Amy Chua is, in her own words....
'a story about a mother, two daughters, and two dogs. This was supposed to be a story of how Chinese parents are better at raising kids than Western ones. But instead, it's about a bitter clash of cultures, a fleeting taste of glory, and how I was humbled by a thirteen-year-old'

Amy, is Chinese - American, raised in the traditional strict Chinese way by her parents who immigrated to the USA before her birth.  She chose to raise her two girls in the same way despite the extra difficulties of doing it in a country where it was considered unusual at best and at worst cruel.

I deliberately didn't read anything online about the book before I received it, as I wanted to make up my own mind about it. I enjoyed the book and I read it as I believe Amy Chua intended it to come across - a memoir and a comic one at that.  I didn't get the impression that she was telling the world that the Chinese parenting method was better and was surprised to read how she was completely attacked by the media (most of whom had probably not read the book themselves!) after it's release.

Although I'd never contemplate raising my children in such a strict manner - no playdates, no sleepovers,and up to 10 hours of study a day for example, I don't believe that makes her a bad Mother as such, everything she did was in her opinion for the benefit of her children (who now as young adults have said they are pleased they were raised as they were) and in the same way that millions of children have been raised for years.

This is one of the most interesting books I've read in a long time and I found it fascinating as she explained the reasons behind the Chinese parenting method and think there are some good points in it - just as Western parenting has many pluses and minuses. Raising children is not an easy thing to do, no one parent will ever do it the same way and there is no 'right method' and I think the following quote from the book is a good example of that fact.

Western parents try to respect their children's individuality, encouraging them to pursue their passions, support their choices and provide positive reinforcement and a nurturing environment.  By contrast the Chinese believe the best way to protect their children is by preparing them for the future, letting them see what they are capable of and arming them with skills, work habits and inner confidence that no-one can ever take away. 

Put like that, maybe some Western children could do with a little bit of 'Tiger Mothering'!

I was sent this book for review by Bloomsbury Publishing, I was not told what to write and the opinions are my own.  

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Reasons to be cheerful - Pregnancy edition!

Reasons to be Cheerful for this week?

I had my 12 week scan this week (they re-dated and I am 13 weeks pregnant!)  I can't believe the difference from the scan I had at 9 weeks!   Having had only 2 scans whilst pregnant with Leo at 12 and 20 weeks it's quite strange for me to have had 4 already!  The first was a private scan that we paid for as I couldn't get a hospital appointment for several weeks but the rest were just given as standard at my appointments.  - Another difference as in the UK my first appointment was at 9 weeks and not a lot happened at that one!

Although I was very nervous about my hospital appointments and even more so about actually giving birth in Cyprus so far it's turning out really well. My Gynaecologist , it turns out is my neighbour and she is lovely and speaks perfect English and I should now be having the rest of my appointments with her rather than the male doctor I did not get on as well with which is a big relief. 

Also, in a huge stroke of luck I have found a lovely lady called Claire who is training to become a Doula and Child birth educator, in order to complete her training she must attend a minimum of two births and she has offered her services to me in the run up and during mine.   I met her last week and was really pleased to find out we get on very well.   Whilst pregnant with Leo I heard of Doula's and thought it was a lovely idea but didn't ever think about hiring my own so I am really excited about finding out more.   

I'll be reading up about Doula's and sharing some information with you soon, but for now you can visit Claire's facebook page - 'My Birth - Doula Service - Cyprus.  

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

101 in 1001 - halfway there!

You may have seen that some time ago I compiled a '101 list'  a challenge I set myself where I had to complete a list of 101 tasks chosen by myself in 1001 days. I started this challenge on July 29th 2010 which gives me until 26th April 2013 to get them all done.

The first 6 months were a reasonably slow start but I got a little more into the swing of things during the second half of the first year. I'm now just over half way with 435 days left to go but I have completed 51 things so far.  I've not crossed any new items off now for a couple of months, but mainly because a lot of the items are summer or money related and currently we have neither!  Looking at the list now I realise some things could be a bit more tricky now we have another baby on the way.... the first being

'Watch the sun come up after an all-nighter in Agia Napa'  - hmm maybe change that to 'Watch the sun come up after a night up with a crying baby'    'Go wine tasting' being another that will have to wait!

I've recently ticked off 'Get a facial' - which was a present from my Mum (Thanks Mum!)  and there are several items in progress so it's still all possible though.  Just before Christmas I ticked off 'Make a DVD of Leo's video clips'  - Aaron did this but when I added this one to my list what I actually meant was 'Get Aaron to make DVD' as he can do it so much better than me. The finished DVD was absolutely brilliant and we gave a copy to Aaron's Mum for Christmas which was very well received.

In December I decided to tick off ' Eat fish and chips on the beach at sunset' - although we were not sat directly on the beach as it was too cold I did take this photo from it so that's close enough for me!

This week I've also completed a photo montage for Leo,the plan is to do one for each full year of his life so far. I did start in the logical place and completed the first year first but appear to have not saved it (aargh!) so for now I'll share his second year with you.......Leonidas - his 2nd year

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Please link to your '101 in1001 page or a related post.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

The Battle of Valentines is over!

Valentines Day - do you love it or hate it?    Or are you like me and somewhere in the middle?

Once upon a time I may have been know to get a little over excited and carried away with the large amount of crap for sale (in the UK that is) during the run up to Valentines. I brought Aaron (then my boyfriend) a huge amount of loving purchased presents and planned a lovely romantic evening at home.  It sounded like such a good plan inside my head but he was not as enthusiastic as I'd hoped.... at this point I'd like to mention I was 20 and a lot more easily offended!

Among the commercialised crapI brought him, which I presented to him in a big box was,
Overpriced chocolate in the shape of a heart.
Champagne and strawberries - he doesn't like either
Novelty boxer shorts - why why why!

For dinner I planned Garlic mushrooms to start, followed by steak and pepper sauce, with Vodka jelly (made in a mould the shape of a pair of boobs) and hagen daz ice cream.  I carefully arranged candles all over the front room and waited for his return from work. He walked in and straight away switched the lights on, moaning and assuming that we'd run out of money on the pay as you go electric meter (which was a common occurrence back then!)

The dinner wasn't a great success, I overcooked the steak and Aaron was bemused at being presented with 'jelly and ice cream' for desert. Despite my protests that it was not just 'jelly and ice cream' but vodka jelly and hagen daz which made a difference I was losing the battle (I had also forgotten that Aaron cannot stand jelly!)  

I was disappointed that he was not particularly impressed, and for many years we had the 'Battle of Valentines'   Me saying that it was nice to give cards and / or presents as it was romantic, and him saying it was a load of hype by card companies to make money.   The cynics among you may say that he finally brain-washed me but somewhere along the line I must say I have to agree!

Many years I've brought him cards, some years he's brought me them and then I suddenly realised 'What is the point? - we've been married 7 years, together for 17, do we really need to go and spend a few quid on a card to prove anything? Last year neither of us brought one.

Valentines is not a big thing in Cyprus, apart from a few cards and tacky red teddy bears if you blinked you'd miss the whole thing.  Saying that, I love a reason for a celebration, or a reason to do something different and especially to eat cake and this is as good a one as any.... it's certainly better than 'just because it's Tuesday!'

Leo helped me make these this morning, Heart shaped shortbread (should have been pale pink but he 'helped' a little too much with the food colouring!) and a huge chocolate cake!

We also exchanged cards - with Aaron finally understanding that it was the effort I appreciated rather than the money spent. Leo helped to make the cards and each one is from him and Mummy / Daddy.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Questions and answers

One thing I love about reading other blogs and being part of the 'blog world' is the that just when you are wondering what to blog about someone handily hands you a blog post on a plate, as Multiple Mummy had tagged me in 'Questions and Answers' She has written 11 questions for me to answer and then challenged me to do the same for others. 

1. Apart from your children what is your greatest accomplishment?
Oh, I hate this question!  I guess moving to a new country and making a new circle of friends and feeling like I am at home is quite an accomplishment.

2. What is your favourite beverage?
Cocktails, containing any or all the the following...... mailbu, vodka, barcadi, fruit juice, grenadine.   Or right now Mcdonalds Milkshakes!

3. Why do you blog?
Because I love it! I didn't imagine I'd still be going over 2 years on when I first started and I certainly didn't think it would be so rewarding, enjoyable.... and addictive, maybe the reason I blog is just because I can't stop!

4. If a pregnancy scan said twins tomorrow , what would be your initial thoughts?
OH MY GOD.......I would laugh as I usually do in inappropriate situations, then I would probably pass out with shock...... I have my 12 week scan on Wednesday and hopefully this is not going to happen!

5. What is the hardest part of parenting to your mind?
Being patient!

6. What is your secret parenting weapon?
Bribery, and living upstairs from the Grandparents!

7. What is your idea of blissful ‘me’ time?
Listening to music without being moaned at to turn it off, having a meal and a few drinks with friends and being able to finish an entire conversation.

8. Who do you think has the best job. The Mummy or the Daddy?
Definitely the Mummy, Daddy can often appear to be the better job as they get to leave the house, have adult conversation and stop at the pub on the way home much more easily but given the choice I know which one I'd rather be doing (even if I do moan about it sometimes!)

9. What thing would you recommend people do before children if they get the chance?
Go out a lot, dance until your feet hurt, stay up drinking until the sun comes up and sleep.... a lot!

10. What are you hopes for this year?
I hope that Aaron finds work very soon and we can get on with living as opposed to surviving. Also that I have a pleasant, easy pregnancy and birth and that Leo takes to being a big brother well. 

11. Describe yourself in 5 words?   
Impatient, nosy, restless, friendly, frustrated.

The Rules:
  • You must post these rules.
  • Each person must post 11 things about herself on their blog.
  • Answer the questions the “tagger” listed for you in her post, and create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.
  • Choose 11 people to tag and link to them in the post. 
  • Let each blogger know that you have tagged them.
I tag, and also recommend you pop over for a read when you have 5 minutes...
Love, Life & Babies                             Mummy Mishaps
The Boy and Me                                  Real Housewife of Suffolk County
Here Come the Girls                           Romanian Mum
The Crazy Kitchen                              Seasider in the City

My questions to them....
Would you like to live in a different country?  Why would / wouldn't you?
Are you doing what you thought you would be at this age when you were a teenager?
What is your biggest addiction, and does it worry you?
Do you speak a foreign language? Would you like to?
What is your favourite holiday destination?  (either past or a 'dream destination)
What most annoys you?
What is your dream job?  
What are you looking forward to this year?
How upset would you be  if you woke up tomorrow morning and the internet had ceased to exist?
What day / period of your life would you like to re-live?
If you could travel in time (you know, without buggering up the space/time continuum thing) would you go forward or backwards?

Project 52 - Waiting

Waiting for someone to play with... no matter how hard I try we always seem to be the first ones there!

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Second baby essentials

I think there's a huge difference in shopping for your 2nd baby compared to your first, first time round everyone gives you advice but you smile and nod and then go ahead and ignore them all.  Moses basket - yep need that, hugely expensive impractical pushchair/travel system, yep get one of those. Nappy disposal system..... need I say more!

Although on the other hand you might find you had to economise a lot on your first so 2nd time round you might decide to splash out the things you couldn't afford first time, especially if you have kept some things from the first  - a good idea in theory if you didn't sell your cot the weekend before you fell pregnant!

As we are in no position to be splashing out on anything if we can possibly help it I've been giving some thought to what we need, I know it's early but I figure if we start looking we can find as much as possible 2nd hand.  I'm not into superstition - if anything goes wrong it will not be because we brought a cot, what will be will be.

My list so far....

Cot / pushchair / Car seat -  Probably the most important. Got the best bargains ever the other week  though so that's the most important things off the list.

We could just resort to baby in a suitcase again!

Sling/ carrier - Although we never used one with Leo, I'd love to try one with the new baby. Now Leo is out of the buggy I think it will be useful, especially as so many paths are not pushchair friendly here!  They just concern me as I am prone to backache and if this baby is as big as Leo was I'm not sure it will be worth the money. 

Nappies -  After reading a few reviews I'm actually considering getting re-usable nappies this time round. Disposable's are really expensive here in Cyprus and at least in summer cloth ones would dry quickly.

Steriliser / bottles - I loved my Tommee Tippee ones last time round so unless I find some huge bargains I'll be going for these again methinks.

Cot bedding - I'm not fussed about all he matching stuff and I really don't see the point of cot bumpers so just going to need some sheets. I used gro-bags for Leo which were brilliant. I've still got 2 blankets from Leo - about the only thing I kept!

Baby bouncer - I wish I'd kept Leo's as it was lovely and we used it so much. It only cost me £10 brand new, it was from the Baby Show though and I have no idea which company it was from! So I'll be looking out on the second hand sites.

Changing bag - I won one of these recently thanks to 'Mummy from the Heart' Michelle so that's another item of the list!

Clothes -  although this baby is going to be born in August, in Cyprus so I don't think it will be wearing a lot! I'm thinking vests, babygrows, although I'm sure I'm going to be having some arguments with the nurses in the hospital who insist on wrapping up babies like they are going to freeze.   ( I was once told off as I was going to carry a 14 month old Leo from the hospital to the car, which was just outside in just a vest without a blanket wrapped round him.... it was 40 odd degrees at the time!!!!)

I've been racking my brain, but I can't think of much else, other than random toiletries and muslin cloths!

I'd love to hear your recommendations on what products you have tried, especially in regards to nappies and slings. Have I forgotten anything important off the list?  What were your essential items or your worst buys?

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Life is a Journey - Teenage Crushes

In the continuing 'Life is a Journey' Series this weeks prompt is Teenage Crushes.

I had two main crushes as a teenager my first was as a young teenager and I covered my walls in posters of my man of the moment.

I liked him as Scott in neighbours (I thought the wedding of Scott and Charlene was the most exciting bit of TV ever!) but it wasn't until left the show and cut his hair that I fell in 'love'. When I started secondary school I quickly realised he was not a very 'cool' crush so unlike my friend Claire I decided to keep quiet about it!  

Many many years later I noticed in the local paper he was appearing in a local club (on a Monday night!)  and rang up the only person in the world who be interested. So at the age of late 20-something Claire and I went to see our teenage pin up.  It started off as a very depressing evening waiting for him to come on. We were about the only ones of our age there, sandwiched between teenagers who were probably only there because they were getting served and groups of late 30/ 40 somethings on a rare night out.

Despite an initial reluctance I allowed Claire to drag me to the front of the crowd (crowd may be a slight exaggeration) and I stood there feeling like a bit of a prat waiting for him to appear. But despite being stone cold sober ( I was driving!) when he came out and launched into his old songs, which I had not heard for years it all came back to me and I couldn't help but sing along. He knew the songs were crap and took the p**s out of himself all night.  I was quite surprised at first how different he looked but decided there was still 'something' about him I liked..... especially as I got a kiss!

In my later teenage years I progressed to having a bit of a soft spot for Robbie Williams, but by then had decided that I was far too sophisticated for posters of pop stars and I adorned my newly decorated bedroom with these lovely lads....

image credit
image credit
I always meant to get a photo of Aaron holding Leo like the one above but never got round to it!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Not all sunshine and flowers

I read somewhere the other day (no idea where now. so let me know if it was you and I'll mention it!) an article which asked if some 'Mum bloggers' were projecting an unrealistic picture of parenthood.

Well, yeah more than likely I'd say!   Of course there are many very honest blogs out there talking about the less fun side of parenting, and important issues such as depression and special needs but you could easily mistake many more for living a perfect life...  gorgeous children, perfect Mum's crafting with their children and others creating lovely home cooked meals every day.

From reading previous comments on my blog it occurred to me that people sometimes see a different view to reality.... living the high life in the sun?    When I started this blog I didn't deliberately set out to only blog about the good stuff but as time went on it's kind of what happened, plus the fact it cheers me up more to write about the nice things!
I know a lot of people read this now and many that I know in 'real life' so I've tried to stay away from the moans, in fact it took me till last month to write my first 'moany' post. and I even toned that down!

I've been debating this post for a while but realised its my party blog and I'll cry whinge if I want to.  So get the kettle on!

As you may know, Aaron lost his job back in August. We've been looking for work now for many months and it appears there is none to be found. Maybe 5 or 6 jobs found to apply for, with no response and one (unsuccessful) interview in 5 months.  He is now looking further afield and has applied (still with no response) for jobs in Dubai and the Middle East.  It would be the answer to our problems if he got one of those, although it might throw up a few more as it would mean me staying here and him working in a different country.

Having paid his social insurance payments since starting work, Aaron is entitled to unemployment benefit, this does however only last for 6 months so we are fast approaching this time now. My parents have been and continue to be amazing and are currently supporting us but I hate having to do this to them and I know it cannot continue. I really don't know what we will have to do, Aaron maintains that we will not HAVE to go back to the UK, which is more than fine by me. It's one of the last things I want to do and I don't know that it would even help us that much.

Our bills seem to be thundering through the door at once, and my car is making some worrying noises.

Aaron's car has been off the road for over a year now and in the garage for most of that time as they fix it slowly in their typical Cyprus way!

I really need to go to the dentist, but am putting it off as I know its going to cost me!

I feel like I haven't been warm for months - yes I know, sunny Cyprus but it's bloody freezing indoors. I spend every day in 3 or 4 layers of clothes and spend the evenings under a duvet. We have had the heating on as little as possible and have still been hit with a bill for over 500 euros for 3 months!  I know it won't be long at all until the days warm up and as soon as that happens everything will seem easier though.

I won't even start on how much I need a hair cut, or how I no longer have a pair of jeans to fit and one of my two decent pairs of leggings has a hole in them as they are not essential things and I'm trying to forget how I thought they once were.

I'm trying to be positive  (yep, positive we are stuffed!) and I'm sure I'll get moaned at for writing this post but by not writing it, I felt like it was stopping me writing anything else!  I'll stop now before I remember there are more things to moan about.

Normal service will be resumed shortly and I'll be back to depressing you all with sunny beach photos.....

A family story - A travelling tradition

Once upon a time there was a teddy bear, unloved and unwanted and left sitting in a charity shop feeling sad and hoping someone would give him a home....

That's the way my Mum saw this little fellow anyway as she passed by the shop window.

My Mum is a huge teddy bear fan and has been for years, but over the years she gradually got worse! Obviously teddy bears are lovely  - I mean how horrible would you have to be to not like them, but Mum managed to take it to a whole new level.....

This teddy for some reason best known to my Mum became 'Travel Ted' and proceeded  (much to our amusement and continued mickey taking) to travel all over the world with her having his photo taken in increasing unusual places. He's been to more countries than many people I know, from Greece, Spain, Barbados, France and all over the UK. It was decided that he would be going into retirement here in Cyprus but he may come out on special occasions!

I now secretly like the collection of photos - he has 3 albums all to himself, but could have cheerfully throttled the bear at points over the years when made to stop in random public places while a photo was taken. The most memorable being in a market square in Turkey trying to get a photo of him sitting on a 'interesting' statue or something with just my Mum and me and tons of people walking by, I did get quite annoyed with her!   Maybe it's a 'mum thing' as it probably wouldn't bother me as much these days.....but don't tell her that!

I've been meaning to blog about the little fellow for ages now and this weeks 'Gallery' gave a very apt prompt - 'A Family Story', here are a few highlights of his travels but I will share some more with you very soon!

We did eventually realise after a few years that 'he' was wearing a dress and had a bow but by then it was too late to remember to call him a 'her'!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Life's a Journey - My earliest baby photo

The reason I started this blog was to create a record of our lives, a kind of scrapbook but without all the arty / crafty side to it! I love a good bit of nostalgia, and think its important to be able to pass these things on through the generations. I recently found a blog 'Save every step' and they are running a new series called 'Life is a Journey'  There is a weekly link up but I'm going to play catch up and do the previous prompts anyway,

My earliest baby photo.

My very first ever photo, taken by my Grandad on the day my parents brought me home. Born before the days of camera phones where the first photo is often taken minutes after birth and uploaded to twitter for the world to see I made it all the way home at 3 weeks old before my first photo call.

No prizes for guessing the decade I was born in!

I was born via caesarean section and as was the norm in those days my Mum had to stay in hospital for 3 weeks.  Last year my Mum kindly wrote the story of my birth to share with me.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Discovering Cyprus - Agios Epiphanios

I'm not a religious person and visiting churches was never very high on my to do list. Although over the years I've been to many churches and cathedrals in various countries and although I've appreciated the scale and architecture of many I can never quite get the required level of excitement that they deserve.  I'm starting to enjoy it more now days,  whether it's a sign I'm getting old or because I don't get out as much is irrelevant!

Or of course it could be due to the fantastic views you can find from many churches here in Cyprus...

At the end of the summer we visited the church of Agios Epiphanios in the hills above Agia Napa, a chapel devoted to the Byzantine bishop of Salamis.  We had been here nearly two years before even realising this was here!
My parents discovered it accidentally while having a random drive about exploring and it's only since we have noticed a small sign pointing to it. 

I've not been able to find any more information on this place so it explains why we've managed to miss it for all this time. It's not a day out by any means but if you are in the area it's well worth stopping for a look. 

We took a lot of lovely photos while we were there, as Aaron got a bit arty with his posh camera!  You can see the others on my Cyprus photo blog. Leo had lots of fun too as we were the only people there and he had a good run around whilst enjoying looking at all the mosaics in the floor around the church.

Friday, 3 February 2012

My three books

Reading has always been my passion and barely a day would go by without me spending at least a small part of it stuck into a book, well in the good old days before the distractions of the internet that is! Aaron is also a very avid reader and we've spent many days over the years reading in silence next to each other.

I can't remember a time when I didn't love books, my Mum likes to tell me how I used to tell her off for falling asleep whilst reading to me as I'd know when she got the words wrong.... much like a certain little man does to me these days.  Our house was full of books and I regularly visited the library with my Dad which was hugely exciting... FREE books, what more could you ask for especially as I wanted to read everything, more than I could ever manage to buy!

I spotted on another blog  a prompt to share 'my three books' one each from Childhood, Adulthood and Parenthood which got me thinking of my lifetime favourites so far.  I have no idea how many books I must have read in my life but there are always those that stick out in your memory. 

I'm sure there were many different favourites over the years but the one that really stays with me is actually one of a series of books.  We read 'Little House on the Prairie' by Laura Ingalls Wilder at school and I went on to read (and eventually own) the other eight in the series.  It was a couple of years later I realised there was a TV show, which I was very disapointed with having spent so many years reading the books and never watched more than a couple of episodes.   I'm now wondering why I ever decided to get rid of these books and thinking about hunting on ebay for them!

I guess that choosing a whole series is cheating somewhat so I would choose not the one that started it all for me but my favourite - 'The Little Town on the Prairie' 

An easy choice for me, without a doubt it would have to be 'Lightning' by Dean Koontz.  The first book of his I ever read, borrowed from my old housemate and the book I have re-read more than any other. Time travel and world war two - two of my favourite reading subjects, what's not to love!  I brought this book at a boot fair so I had my own copy and now it's the most battered book I own, one day I'll get round to buying myself a brand new shiny copy - it deserves it!

It also contains one of my favourite quotes......'Destiny struggles to reassert the pattern that was meant to be'   

We've not long left behind the board books and 'My first word' type books so I've yet to read many proper stories with Leo. He loves his books as much as we do and among his favourites are the classic 'Mr Men' books and anything to do with Thomas the tank engine.   Our current favourite though is the 'Apple Tree Farm' series. from Usborne books.   

We read one a night before bed (and often at several points during the day too), they are a lovely set of books, really easy to read with gorgeous illustrations. Each starts the same way, and Leo knows the start off by heart. He either has a great memory or can read portions of each book as he often now beats me to it as I turn the page.  I don't think I'll ever forget the beginning of each story, it will always remind me of this time...

'This is Apple Tree farm. This is Mrs Boot the farmer, she has two children called Poppy and Sam, and a dog called Rusty' 


Thursday, 2 February 2012

Learning Greek - I'm getting there!

This week, a little later than planned I finally completed the first level of my Rosetta Stone Greek language course. I started the course back in June so it's taken me a while to get this far.  The plan had been to get to this point by Christmas to be able to start 2012 with level 2 but with the whole house being ill in some sort of  odd relay race it got a bit delayed.

Although I often need to push myself to complete a lesson or two, being too easily distracted by faffing around on the internet, reading or sometimes even falling asleep mid lesson (due to early mornings and toddler, I must add not through any fault of the lessons!)   When I do get on and do it I genuinely enjoy it, like most things it becomes much easier when you get into the habit of doing it little and often.

As I've progressed through the first level I have attended the online Studio session for each lesson. These really make all the difference to me as it really feels like you are making progress when you realise you can talk in only Greek for 50 minutes!  I still feel nervous before each new one but the tutors are lovely and they do put you at ease really well.

I've generally attended each studio session 3 times which really helped me to get my head round the language covered in each one, especially as I tend to book each one as I'm still covering the lesson it relates to - often meaning I struggle my way through the first time!

Having done some Greek before starting the course I did find it all reasonably easy at the start, but I was really pleased to see that its presented in a way that keeps it interesting all the way through even though there is obviously a lot of repetition (the only way you will learn a language after all!)  The course moves quickly between listening, speaking, and reading with plenty of useful vocabulary and the all important grammar sneaked in there too.

I'm looking forward to moving on with the rest of the course, and excited to see what will be coming up next. We're starting to get into the more interesting stuff now we've covered the basics.

So onwards and upwards, Level 2 here we come...

 I was sent the Rosetta Stone TOTALe course to review but the views and opinions are my own.

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