Monday, 30 April 2012

Trying to perfect my 'Angry Voice'

Like many Mums, or probably all Mums I've been having some 'terrible two' issues with my darling boy.

Trying to work out the best strategy for dealing with these problems is not the easiest thing in the world and I've tried various combinations of raising my voice, talking quietly, ignoring, distracting, reasoning, removing toys/ treats, actually removing him, and have yet to come up with the solution that works every time. 

I think what I need is a decent 'angry voice' 

As a child I was rarely smacked but I knew the 'angry voice' and I knew that was time to behave. I'm not very good at the voice myself tending to be ignored by Leo, I guess because he hears it all the time. It's rare that I perfect it but this week when I thought he was about to tip the TV off its stand I nailed it! It could have been the danger or it could have been the the fact I know that replacing such equipment would not be cheap, not only due to an empty bank account but due to the fact that lcd tv deals such as those accessible in the UK or on the internet are few and far between here in Cyprus!

Thinking about it, I have a similar reaction when he touches my laptop, I'm not sure what this says about my parenting though when it's only the technology related incidents that manage to bring out the 'angry'!  It worked though, after the TV incident not only was he convinced I had smacked him (I was actually no where near close enough to reach him!)  but he apologised, gave me a cuddle and even tidied up his toys without being asked, so maybe it is the way forward!

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Famagusta Orange Festival

Whilst out and about this week I noticed the sudden appearance of these fantastic dolphins made from oranges at the Cultural Centre of Occupied Ammochostos (Famagusta) I was intrigued and wondered why they were there. 

It turns out that up until 1974 when the Turkish invasion of Cyprus took place there was an Orange Festival held each year in Varosha (the part of Famagusta which is now under UN control)  Because of its proximity the cultural centre apparently commemorated the event this weekend with a visit from the Agricultural Minister and Defence Minister of Cyprus. 

There was little information to be found as if often the case with events here but after a bit of digging I found a website with some great photos and information about the 1936 Orange festival. 

The last festival took place in March 1974. 

Looking through the oranges towards Varosha

Written as part  of my Discovering Cyprus posts.

The answer to my prayers!

When I found out I was pregnant this time round I was absolutely dreading the fact I would be going through the pregnancy and giving birth in Cyprus. My experiences of the hospital up until this point have been mixed, they do speak English and they are generally very helpful but I find the procedures sometimes confusing as I'm sure any foreigner would in the UK and I was very nervous about it all, particularly giving birth.  Aaron said he would be with me despite wishing he hadn't been at Leo's as he wouldn't make me do it alone.

I was most worried about the lack of pain relief and the fact I might have to have a caesarean that I might not need (two things I had heard were very common) as well as struggling with the language (although they speak English they obviously talk in Greek amongst themselves and sometimes I find it hard to understand anyway) 

Then via Mums in Cyprus I was contacted by Claire who is a Doula / Childbirth educator in training looking for someone who would like to use her services to enable her to complete her training. 

This is to me, nothing short of a miracle! Especially now I've met her twice now and she is lovely... and she speaks Greek!

I'd heard of Doula's whilst expecting Leo but was quite happy with the midwives I saw and the options and information available in the UK so I didn't find out much about what they do. 

So, in her own words, what is a Doula?...... 

A Doula is a trained, passionate labor companion who provides the woman and her partner continuous emotional support, physical comfort and assistance in obtaining information before, during, and after child birth. There are many benefits to having a doula present during labor. A doula mothers the mother when she needs it most. 

A doula will encourage and guide the mother to use her own strength and abilities to birth successfully enabling her to have a memorable positive birthing experience.

When a doula is present, women are less likely to have pain relief medications administered and less likely to have a cesarean birth. 

The main focus of a doula's role is often on the birth itself, but doula support can also be invaluable during pregnancy (especially if you face questions about tests or complications), and after the birth when she can help out with feeding and adjusting to life with a newborn.

Sounds good to me, and it sounds good to Aaron who is now not having to be at the birth with me so everyone is happy. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted and am even looking forward to it (well, maybe until that first contraction hits anyway!) 

You can find out more on Claire's Facebook page 'Doula Care Service'  

I have not been asked to blog about this but am more than happy to promote her work.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Flashback Friday - Mr Noisy!

As mentioned before our family have a huge love of books and we have passed this onto Leo, like his toys his favourites vary from day to day but a some he always comes back to are the classic Mr Men series.  He can name nearly all of them and as well as reading them he likes to spend time looking at them all and arranging them all over the place, I think he's so impressed that he now owns so many of them!

I then remembered that his first ever fancy dress costume when he was 9 months old happened to be a Mr Man, long before he had any idea who they were. 

 It was brought at the last minute from the only place I could find here to sell them and it was one of a choice of two outfits. It was also for a 5 year old to be worn as a top with red trousers but it was that or nothing so we gave it a shot!

These days although Mr Noisy certainly suits him a lot of the time,  I'm sure he'd protest and want to be a different one, currently his favourite is Mr Bump which would also be quite apt for him, along with Mr Mischief, Mr Chatterbox, Mr Messy and Mr Funny!


Thursday, 26 April 2012

Eczema? Rosea? Who knows!

I'm writing about this, not because I particularly want to remember it but in case someone can help!

Each year of his life my poor little man has suffered for a period of time with an unknown rash.  I don't know if it has been the same thing each time but I guess it must be, it never occurred to me to take photos each time (can't have developed the blogger mentality at that point obviously!)  so I can't directly compare. 
rash, eczema, rosea, toddler

The first time he got a rash at 7 months old in December we took him to the doctors, they didn't really know what it was but gave us some cream (no idea what it was) and within a couple of days it went.   It came back a couple of times and eventually I realised that each time he got it he'd been wearing polyester. 
He was then rash free until June when just after his 1st birthday was ill with a fever, as the fever went the rash appeared and spent ages trying various different creams and potions until it eventually it went within a few days. We were none the wiser as to what the solution had been.
Last year the rash appeared again and like before it didn't bother him at all, no itching, no other effects other than it looking awful. The doctor sent us to see the dermatologist who didn't really come up with any answer other than to prescribe cortisone cream and a antihistamine.   They did nothing but after a several weeks once again it completely disappeared. 
The disappearance coincided with the start of the very hot weather and the fact that he got the sun on his skin.  
This year it has come up again, at almost the same time, at the start of April I took him back to the same Dermatologist who quite confidently this time told me it was Rosea.  Once again he gave us cortisone cream and anti-histamine to take for 7 days. He said that rosea will go on its own within 12 weeks but the prescription should help.  I was really pleased we actually had an answer and reading the NHS website (can't help but always refer back to the good old NHS!)  it all made sense.

Within the week it had almost gone, but only to reappear within days. Now however it is also itching him and even putting moisturiser (for sensitive skin, eczema, etc) is stinging when I apply it.  I took him back to the Dermatologist today who shrugged his shoulders and suggested it might instead be Atopic Eczema and once again has prescribed the same!

So once again we are playing a waiting game and hoping that it will disappear very soon.

A different holiday

I've said before on my blog that one of the things I miss most about the UK is the canals, we spent many a lovely weekend on board and Leo had his very first holiday on the boat too.   I was a very reluctant convert to narrow boating, in fact I was sure that I would hate it!

My idea of a good holiday was 2 weeks all inclusive on a sun bed by a pool. It did not involve any kind of manual labour, small living space, cold or rain, it would involve late nights and no early mornings, and certainly no children. Then I was 'persuaded' to spend a long weekend on a narrow boat with 6 children (none of them my own) and 5 adults, this seemed like a bad plan - apart from the reasons mentioned before, being outnumbered by kids can never be a good idea surely!

It turns out it was a great weekend and although a completely different holiday to what I was used to, one that was great fun and good for all ages. Saying that the youngest child was four and although many people do I'm not sure I'd want to do it with them any younger even wearing life jackets, at four he listened to instructions, understood rules and was not too much trouble, and watching Leo at the age of two near a swimming pool can stress me out!

Something I'd also never considered is a touring caravan which I'd once lumped together as being very similar, I don't think they could ever take the place in my heart of the boat but it would solve the short term problem of worrying that small people would fall into a lock.

Of course a holiday with a lack of sun no longer bothers me as much, especially if timed in the middle of August, this year especially I think I may need to be escaping the heat - pregnant in 50 degrees is not going to be fun!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Then there was trouble.... Tantrums and 2 year olds

Before I had Leo I was adamant that I would not have one of 'those' kids - you know the kind that run riot, throwing toys, kicking and generally misbehaving. I would also not be one of 'those' Mums - the kind that shouts at their kids who don't pay the slightest bit of attention, the kind who ignore some bad behaviour as it's not that bad, and the kind who generally can't control their own children.  I feel bad now but I always blamed bad parenting as cause.

In some of the places I've lived in the UK there were plenty of those parents and kids about, but equally I knew (some!) friends and family who had perfectly lovely well behaved children.  I just assumed that I'd make damn sure I brought up similarly lovely offspring.

'They' say it's not easy being a parent, 'they' say a lot of things though and I think I may have not been listening to all of them.  Whilst pregnant, and even before I read probably every childcare book in the library, I like instructions and it all seemed reasonably straight forward, Super Nanny was not going to come even close - I had it all under control.

Except I didn't, I even thought we'd escaped the worst of the clichéd 'terrible twos' but somewhere in the last couple of weeks they have snuck up and bit me on the bum.

I now find myself with a crazy 'almost' 3 year old who understands what you say and deliberately does the opposite. He shouts, bangs, and throws toys despite requests not too and warnings of punishment.  He needs more entertainment that I can give him and I just run out of ideas to keep him occupied. Every day he asks where we are going, or what we are going to do and I just have no idea!  Being 5 months pregnant is not helping - I'm having trouble lifting him in and out of his car seat or carrying him when he refuses to co-operate so going out is becoming difficult already.

He does have his moments and can be very polite and sweet and will often play on his own for surprisingly long periods of time absorbed with this engines and train tracks, but when he goes you really notice it!  I'm totally stumped as to how to deal with it, taking toys away has been working up till now but I don't actually have anywhere to take them all away to and he realises this.   Smacking (yeah, whatever - I was smacked in moderation and I'm fine *ahem*)  will stop him doing something but I'd like to not have to do it for every little thing!

Maybe reward charts are the answer, it worked very well for potty training but I don't want to keep giving him stuff as he has more than enough already, the more he gets the worse I think he becomes as it is.

I realise that a large part of them problem comes from the fact that for the first time in 8 months, Daddy is not around, and not only does he miss him he knows that its a lot harder to mess around with him! He knows I can't carry him and 'fight' him like Aaron can too and that because 'Mummy has a baby in her belly' its much harder for me to do stuff.  Unfortunately (in this instance) he's not stupid and realises he can play on these things.

In many ways I'm dreading the arrival of number 2, although I'm trying to hope that by then we may have entered a slightly different phase which with any luck may be easier.  But in reality I think I need to find a way to discipline him now and not hope it passes, I refuse to have badly behaved children  I'm just a bit stuck as to how to achieve this!
Image Credit

The Gallery - Action

 This weeks Gallery prompt is Action,  and what else could I use but a photo of a very energetic toddler!

This was taken a couple of weeks ago in our local park, it's not the best park in the world but it's a very good one for Cyprus! It has a small playground - a slide that Leo cannot climb up on his own, a couple of rocking toys and a see-saw,  a cage with some birds in it (not very good conditions for the birds but Leo like to have a look at it each time as he doesn't realise this!)  and several paths and sections which are great fun for a toddler to explore.

The park is only a few minutes walk from our apartment which is nice and we've often met up with other Mums and kids for a picnic there.  It's nice for him to have a place to run around in, and the novelty of grass to play on which none of our friends have in their gardens!

Click the badge above to see all the other Gallery entries in 'action'

Friday, 20 April 2012

A new chapter

To me time always seems to fall into little chapters, most of the time you don't realise them going by but when you look back it seems that there is always a phase which you can define.   From a job you had or a place you lived, a pub you drank in or a group of friends you spent all your time with before gradually drifting away, to moving on and having children - you have the newborn phase, the time where you turn a corner and realise a routine is starting to form or that they are sleeping through the night.

We have been in Cyprus now for almost two and a half years and even that slots into different chapters - The two months before Aaron started work. the next phase where Aaron worked 12 hours a day while I looked after a baby for the first time on my own and knew only one person to talk to, and then the bit in the middle where I tried to figure it all out and I gradually made friends.  Last year my parents moved over which was another big change and then in August Aaron lost his job. 

The last 8 months have been a their own little chapter of our lives, they were a chapter where money was stupidly tight but one we spent almost entirely together.  From hardly seeing Leo all week, Aaron got to spend every day with him and from me doing all the 'house' work on my own I got to share it with Aaron (I'd like to say halve it but I'd be exaggerating!)  

During this period of time we found out I am pregnant and as the weeks have gone by and I've got bigger and more tired it's been very handy to have Aaron around to give me a hand around the house, bathing Leo and letting me have lovely afternoon naps.  I've popped out for various reasons on my own and not felt guilty that  I've left him with someone and they might be getting annoyed and I've been able to do food shops alone without a toddler causing havoc along the way!   We've had a few family trips out and enjoyed spending time together. It was nice to have Aaron see what Leo has been doing and the funny things he's said rather than try and tell him everything in the evening.

Obviously I'm very happy that Aaron has a new job, it was a very worrying situation and although we are not completely back on our feet financially we're now on our way, but I still couldn't help feel a little bit sad that another chapter had ended yesterday when he went off to work and I was left holding 'carrying' the baby and trying to amuse the wilful toddler.

This morning though as I cleaned my apartment on my own with my music playing in the background (something Leo moans about!) with the doors wide open in the low 30's temperature, looking out to sea  and listening to Leo playing downstairs in the garden with Nana and Granddad,  I remembered what I love about our life here and that the start of a new chapter is exciting..

Aaron is not only earning money but loving his new job, Leo is out of nappies and is growing up fast. 
One of my very good friends is coming to visit next week and summer is just around the corner. 
Exciting things are slowly starting to happen with regards to my blog and on-line work and all's well so far with my pregnancy, and in about four months time our little family of three will become four!

Oh, and I got myself a posh new hair cut....

Flashback Friday

It's Friday and that means it's Flashback time!

As this week Aaron started his new job (Branch manager 'Easy Riders Bike Hire'  Agia Napa) so when I come across this photo I thought it quite apt. 

I'm going back to 1996, when we were on holiday in Gran Canaria. Aaron saw this bike in the foyer of the Hard Rock Cafe and jumped on for what was my favourite photo of the holiday. 

I've never been a big fan of bikes personally, but he loves them.  I did go out on a couple of his bikes over the years but generally not enjoyed it.   He has had 4 sports bikes and later on brought a Hyusung (kind of like a Harley, although he'd probably tell me off for describing it like a girl!) which was an improvement as it was a little more comfortable but I still wasn't a fan!

He sold the bike just before we moved to Cyprus and still misses it all the time, I'm sure he will get another one day when he can afford it!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

22 weeks Pregnancy Update - Cyprus vs UK

Today I had my 22 week scan and am pleased to say that all is well. Bubs is currently breach but so was Leo up until the last moment so I'm not too worried about that at this point. All limbs and essential parts are present and correct and I was impressed that I remembered my parts of the body in Greek as I could almost follow what they were saying as the nurse made her notes.  We found out we are having a boy at the last scan but as I was only 16 weeks I was eager to double check today, and was happy to have it confirmed that he is 'still' a boy and they have no doubt about it due to the fact he was busy waggling his bits at us.

For me the antenatal care so far has been good and I was initially terrified at the thought of having a baby here. Not being able to speak the language to any good level and generally not really understanding the procedures at the hospital was daunting to say the least. My usual lifeline in times of crises (the internet)  let me down and I could find nothing of any use online to help me out.

Now I'm getting the hang of it I'm actually preferring it to the antenatal care in the UK (so far!)

In the UK I had my first midwife appointment at 9 weeks with the midwife where she took my bloods and sample and I filled in a ton of paperwork. I can't remember how often I had appointments throughout and I'm not sure when they first listened for the heartbeat but I do know I had 2 scans, one at 12 weeks and one at 22 weeks.

I went to a private clinic (cost 30 euro) for my first scan here as I was unsure of my dates and they scanned me and told me I was 5 weeks pregnant. I then made an appointment at the general hospital. At the first appointment (7 weeks) they did the usual checks and medical history questions, I then had an internal scan to determine the due date.

Next check up at 9 weeks - blood tests, usual checks (sample & blood pressure) and another scan. Doctor said baby was too small to see anything so rescheduled for 2 weeks later for another scan.

At my 16 week check up and scan they told me I was having a boy, apparently most doctors will tell you if it is quite clear. (although I've heard of several who have guessed and got it wrong). Another check up at 20 weeks, with scan but I guess just to check the heartbeat as it was very quick. Unlike my appointments in the UK where the midwife used a doppler to listen for it.

Today I am 22 weeks and it was the much more detailed anomaly scan. At my request they also showed me the delivery suite and maternity ward, (which looks very nice - clean and comfortable with 2 beds to a room, tv, free wi-fi and a gorgeous sea view!)   I asked about pain relief and they confirmed what I had already been told - no gas and air used in Cyprus, no epidural, just pethidine, which is in some way reassuring as many people have told me they were offered nothing except paracetamol.

In my quest to find information on birth in Cyprus I've heard many things...
No pain relief,  you don't get to have your baby in the room with you after birth, they are very quick to do caesarean births, you have to have an enema before labour, they are quick to give formula feeds without checking, and you HAVE to stay in for 5 days after birth, among other things.

As every birth is different I'm sure that all of the above has often happened but I hope to find out more, yesterday I asked for Mums' here to share their experiences of birth in Cyprus with me and already I'm getting some great (and varied) birth stories. As an expat I find it's very easy to listen to the bad bits and when you maybe have only heard one or two friends experiences it's not a true picture so I hope by getting some more women to share I can show a more balanced view.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Having a baby in Cyprus

Since finding out I am pregnant I've realised that there is very little information on the internet about pregnancy and birth in Cyprus, there are a few websites with a little bit of 'what to do' info but it's mainly directed at giving birth in a private clinic and usually just a few comments on a forum - never an actual birth story.

Along with sharing my experiences as I go I thought it would be good if I could speak to others who have already experienced it for themselves.  I think it would be interesting not only for me but maybe helpful for others expecting babies here in Cyprus.   Obviously no two pregnancies or births are the same and also procedures can vary between care providers so every woman experience will differ but hopefully with enough feedback I can share some varied accounts of birth in Cyprus.

pregnancy and birth in Cyprus

So, I'm looking for women who have had a baby in Cyprus who would like to share their experiences for a new series of posts here on my blog. I am currently halfway through my 2ndpregnancy (1st in Cyprus) and have not found much ‘real’ information online about birth inCyprus.

Whether you have had children in both Cyprus and UK (or whatever your ‘home’ country is) or you have just had a baby in Cyprus I’d love to hear about it.
Some questions to help you out – (you don’t have to answer all of them, just to give you something to think about!)

Did you have your baby in a private clinic or in the general hospital?
How much did it cost?
Would you do the same again?
What was the antenatal care like? Were you happy with it?
What do you wish you had known about having a baby here beforehand?
Did you have a c-section or natural birth? Was that your choice?
Did you have any pain relief? What was available to you?
Did you have a birth partner?
How long did you stay in hospital after birth? What was it like?
Were you spoken to in English or Greek?
Did you have any intervention during the birth? (Forceps, episiotomy etc)
If you have had a baby here and abroad how did the experiences differ? What were the positive and negative aspects of each country? And where would you choose if you were to do it again?
Anything else you’d like to add?

You can email me with any stories or find me on twitter @emsyjo

Monday, 16 April 2012

Easter Weekend and a Name Day.

This weekend was Easter here in Cyprus as it's rarely the same time as the UK and despite some mixed weather and potty training it's been a lovely long weekend.  On Good Friday my friend Sam had one of her always brilliant kids parties with an Egg hunt and a couple of games for the kids.  Last year was good but Leo, being a year older really enjoyed it this time. He relived the entire party on the way home in the car and was even talking in his sleep about it for half the night!

The (unplanned) highlight had to be watching the kids play with a huge bowl of cornflakes and listen to their squeals and laughter.  The cornflakes had been part of a mini chocolate egg lucky dip but as much as they loved the chocolate throwing huge handfuls into the air and running about was much more fun!

Weather wise Easter Sunday started of promising and was looking good for our first BBQ of the year for seven people but as the day progressed it got a bit darker and chillier and in the end there were a few spots of rain.  Not to be put off - us Brits don't let a tiny bit of rain stop us cooking outside we powered through and Aaron cooked us all a yummy dinner.

Leo had cried when it started raining and said 'Oh no now we can't BBQ and our friends won't come and we won't have any dinner'  I assured him we had BBQ'd in much worse (like torrential rain under a cheap B&Q gazebo for 30 people) our friends would still come and of course he'd still get his food!

Sunday also happened to be Leo's Name Day so he was given a couple of cards from my Mum and our friend and neighbour Sue.  Not being Cypriot we don't make a big fuss of his name day especially as it's not long till his birthday but he did get a couple of treats which he was over the moon with - a copy of The Gruffalo (Thanks to The Boy and Me - much appreciated!) and a small plastic torch which is his new favourite toy!

I was hoping to venture out to see some of the local Easter Monday Celebrations today but a combination of Aaron hurting his back, me not being able to carry Leo much and not wanting to push our luck with the potty training means we will be leaving this till next year.  Besides that though it's been a lovely weekend.

Καλό Πάσχα - Happy Easter to all our friends in Cyprus!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

The week we ditched the nappies!

Last Sunday we decided to start potty training Leo - well Aaron decided after I'd spent months faffing about it!. After a few attempts we realised the potty was no good and so got his trainer seat for the toilet and went straight for that.  The first few days weren't too bad - a few accidents but to be expected then Wednesday was not so good.

I'm not sure if he got bored with our constant asking if he needed to go but he started saying he didn't want to go and unlike the previous days he would not even go and try, only to have an accident a few minutes later.  Any attempts to get him to sit on the toilet resulted in a big tantrum despite the promise of stickers for his chart, and second present after his second line of 10 stickers.

Thursday was a slight improvement and he spent the morning down at my parents, so it was a lovely morning for me!  He tends to listen to my Mum so he used the toilet several times and had only one accident.  In the afternoon he had one accident on the balcony in the corner between the sofa and chairs but then went back in the evening and quite deliberately did it again which didn't go down very well with us!

I was not looking forward to Friday afternoon from the training point of view as we were going to my friends for an Easter party, but he stunned and amazed me by having no accidents and two wee's on the toilet - I discovered that the chocolate bribery was a good plan!

Saturday was much better, keeping on the chocolate bribery I offered him a mini egg for trying to go every now and again even when he said he didn't need to and mostly I timed it right and he went. Although he quickly cottoned onto the fact and sometimes tried to get straight back on for another egg.  We got through the whole of Saturday with no wee accidents but missed a poop!

Today (Sunday) was the first day with no accidents or toilet related tantrums at all! Now, I don't believe we can have cracked it 100% so soon but I'm very pleased to have not touched the mop today!

Linking up to Mummy, Daddy and Me Makes Three

Silent Sunday

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Friday, 13 April 2012

Flashback Friday - At the beach

Due to living in Cyprus Leo has probably been to the beach more times so far than I did in my whole childhood, at least he can't be that far off it.  For me beach trips for on holiday or if you were really lucky then those rare English summer days that coincided with a day out!

My Dad was always great fun on a beach, we used to spend a lot of time in the water usually on 'the hand' (the best inflatable I've seen!) and we made some great boats, cars and of course sandcastles.

Looking back I now suspect that I may have had minimal input into the design of these creations and have the feeling that my role in making them could have been limited to digging and 'patting down'.  It does kind of ruin my Dad's 'reason' for building them which was so he could get the sun on his back as they are much more impressive than strictly necessary!

Not that I'm complaining of course, they were great fun to do and I'm sure he is looking forward to getting back into the castle building habit. Last year Leo was more intent on knocking them down or just digging a hole, maybe this year he'll let Grandad play too!

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Being cheerful again!

It's been a long time since I last joined in with Michelle's Reasons to be Cheerful as although I haven't been sitting around being miserable (well not all the time!) I just ran out of things to write about - there's only so many ways you can write the same thing!

It's been a long winter for us, Aaron lost his job last August, all the family has been ill at various points, it's been very cold, electricity prices are sky high so heating has been costing a fortune and we'd done nothing much for ages.  After the initial surprise of finding out I was pregnant I have been cheerful about that but it was also thing to worry about and give me nothing to wear!

However.... I'm back and newly cheerful, here's why....

1. Aaron. Has. Got. A. Job.   
After months of searching, emailing, calling, sending CV's, calling random numbers just to find out they only want to employ women who speak Russian or something etc he has finally got work. Not only that but it's a job he actually wanted! At the point where we were searching for anything no matter how low paid or stupid hours this makes it even more brilliant!

He will be working for Easy Riders Bike Hire in Agia Napa managing one of their shops. His ideal job really!  It's seasonal but they are looking for someone permanent to avoid rehiring every summer. The hours will be long - 6 days a week and 7 days in at least July and August but that's the same everywhere in the summer, but he will have the winter off... which will be lovely and relaxing for him with two kids around!

2. Pregnancy is going well so far, I'm now 21 weeks so over half way there already! I'm feeling definite kicks now and looking forward to my scan next week. 

3. The weather has changed, summer is almost here! Although it still rains occasionally, the temperature has risen, the heating hasn't been on for a couple of weeks and I'm no longer wearing 3 jumpers every day!  We had our first afternoon on the beach last week and it was gorgeous, Leo really enjoyed himself and it went much better than last years trips which bodes well. 

4. I've joined the team at Mums in helping out as Events Editor. I love the site and am pleased to be able to say I'm part of it.  Also on a similar note the local magazine I write for 'Daxi' is now having a seperate edition for the Larnaca area as well as this one and I will be featured in both each month. 

5. We've finally tackling the potty training stage which I have been putting off for ages now, the first few of days went much better than today's but we're powering through, hopefully he'll 'get it' very soon now!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The Gallery - Easter

Cyprus celebrates Greek Orthodox Easter which this year falls this coming weekend, one week after Western or Christian Easter.  Some years, like the previous two by coincidence it falls on the same weekend but I was intrigued to find out why its not often on the same day.

By the wonder of the interweb I discovered that

The formula for Easter—"The first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox"—is identical for both Western and Orthodox Easters, but the churches base the dates on different calendars: Western churches use the Gregorian calendar, the standard calendar for much of the world, and Orthodox churches use the older,Julian calendar.

Easter is the biggest religious festival in Cyprus and is celebrated more than Christmas, for most people it lasts from Good Friday until the following Tuesday.  Decorations come out a few weeks before and can be found by churches, street corners and on many roundabouts!

On Easter Saturday people head to the church for the midnight service, the churches usually have a big bonfire (to burn Judas - the apostle who betrayed Jesus) outside and last year we took a walk down to our local church to see.  As people leave the church carrying they greet each other with 'Christos Anesti' (Christ has risen) to which the reply is 'Alithos Anesti' (Indeed he has risen). Candles and bonfires are lit all over the island and firecrackers are let off to signal the end of the 50 days of fasting (Lent) 

Easter Sunday is a day of rejoicing, feasting and cracking of the red dyed eggs.  (Red to symbolise the blood of Christ).

In many villages it is a custom on Easter Sunday and Monday for families to have lunch together in the church yard or village square with each family bringing food and wine.  I believe our village has celebrations on the Monday but unfortunately my Greek is not up to translating the leaflet that came to the door!

For our Easter Sunday we are inviting the neighbours and cooking a BBQ lunch, adhering to the tradition that they bring food and wine of course!

Information found from Wikipedia  and Cyprus Tourism Organisation so blame them if I've got anything wrong!

Linking up to The Gallery, this week's prompt is funnily enough.... Easter.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Not 'Going Potty' - skipping that part!

A few weeks ago I posted about 'not' potty training I knew the time was approaching or maybe had approached ages ago and I chose to ignore it but I've been putting it off for ages now. It's not the first time I've put making a change off, last year there was 'the battle of the bottle'   - where I bored everyone silly for months about the struggles of getting Leo to ditch his baby bottles and I did the same with moving him from a cot to a bed. You'd think I'd know better by now and realise that I might as well just get on with it, and it's probably not going to be that bad!

On Sunday I had a lovely lie in while Aaron got up with Leo, when I got up we were unexpectedly in full potty training mode. Leo had asked for a new nappy minutes after getting one as he had done a wee, something he had never done before so Aaron asked him if he wanted to wear big boy pants instead and tell us if he wanted one.  He agreed and sat on the potty a couple of times to practise.

The problem was though that he is just too big for the potty, it's very hard to get him to sit exactly on it and have room to get the vital equipment pointing downwards! I had a small trainer seat to go on top of the toilet and after quite a lot of persuasion and the promise of a sticker he eventually agreed to try sitting on that instead.

I was instructed by him to take a photo of him on the toilet but I thought he'd probably not be impressed in later life if I put that online!

The day progressed well, at least with none of the arguments I would have expected from his previous reluctance to wearing pants. There were several accidents but 3 wees on the toilet by the end of the day. 

Yesterday was even better, 4 wees and a poop on the toilet and only one accident just before bed - that's my fault for saying 5 minutes before that we'd had none all day!

It's still not a fun experience and I realise part of the reason (or maybe most of it) I've put it off so long is that I'm too lazy, and very impatient!  The constant running to the bathroom for false alarms drives me nuts as does the constant 'Do you need a wee?, are you sure?  Shall we just try?' questions  but  'this too shall pass!'  and maybe next time I'll get on with all the changes without procrastinating about everything!

I'm pleased that we accidentally bypassed the potty stage completely as now we only have to lose the  trainer seat and we can use any toilet. Despite his initial fear of falling in the toilet I don't think it will be that long as after just a couple of days he's quite happy sitting on the 'Thomas seat' without us holding it and it wobbles and was scary to him at first.  

Saturday, 7 April 2012

The things they say

A while ago I wrote a post 'They really do say the funniest things' and although there is a chance that Leo might not appreciate it later on I intended to do it regularly (working on the theory that it's cute and I'm sure he'll realise that eventually!)   As I hadn't got round to blogging but knew I'd forget these hilarious words of wisdom I've been scribbling the odd one down in a notebook so these are now a little bit old but complete gems!

Back in the depths of winter (which is surprisingly cold in Cyprus with no heating and marble floors) I was trying to persuade Leo to put his socks on, we had to fight all through the winter to get him to wear more than a t-shirt - I spent most of it wearing three jumpers, thick socks and slipper boots.  It was early in the morning and at the time of the 'sock debate' we were watching 'Barney' which had African dancers in it.  

'Why I got to wear socks Mummy'
'Because the floor is cold'
'Why is the floor cold' 
'Because it's marble'
'Why is it marble?'
'Because it is - just put your socks on please' 

'Oh no Mummy, they not wearing socks' (talking about the dancers on the TV) They get cold feet'
'No, its ok because it's hot where they are'
'Why is it hot?'
'Because they are in Africa and it's very hot' 

'Oh Mummy, you mustn't touch their feet, they will burn you, you need to 'fouf* them'

*Fouf - a technical term for blowing on soemthing to cool it down.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Change is as good as a rest?

For most of my life I have had my hair in pretty much the same style, sometimes long, sometimes a bit shorter but that's about the most to have changed.

Back in 2007 I went for a more drastic cut after reading somewhere that it's time to get a new hair cut if you have had the same one since school or if you have lost or gained more than 3 stone. As both of those thins applied to me I decided to be brave and put myself in the capable hands of a hairdresser friend of mine. 

I was still not brave enough to consider having it all chopped off but I went shorter than I had ever done before and it was graduated at the back so for the first time ever there was no way I could put it up  any more!

It was to date my most favourite hair cut but since then I've not really been able to repeat it, especially since moving to Cyprus.  My problem is that although I like it short like in the picture above I can't stand to not be able to tie it up in the summer, I also want it to be low maintenance  or it will look rough all the time, especially with a new baby on the way!  In summer I'm in and out of water all the time and using a hair-dryer is the last thing you want to do after a nice cool shower, so something that doesn't need a lot of styling is also a requirement!

I'm thinking it's time to take the plunge and go for a proper short style, although I'm nervous about losing the ability to chuck it in a ponytail and be done with it!

Any suggestions will be gratefully received!

This post is for my Flashback Friday, there is no theme - just go with whatever takes your fancy! . If you'd like to join in you can read all about it here. If you wish, 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!

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Wednesday, 4 April 2012

A peaceful winter

When we decided to move to Cyprus it didn't take us long to decide that we wanted to live on the east coast, at first however we found it hard to convince the property companies of that!   We went to a big property show in the UK and we found time and time again that sales agents would either try and sway us towards the west coast or not even deal with the east at all, every company it seemed assumed we wanted to live in Paphos. 

One company even told us that the East was no good to live in as it 'closes' in the winter...... it closes?  Completely? What a stupid statement - surely people live there all year!  

What they meant was parts of it close and apparently they were under the impression that we wanted to live like tourists 365 days a year.  

Protaras in winter
Protaras in particular does 'almost' close for the winter, the main 'strip' I believe only has one bar open all year.  Venture away from that street though and you will find a couple of places open.  Agia Napa has slightly more places open all year round but caters for a different clientèle during the winter months with most of its visitors coming from Scandinavian countries. 

We chose not to live in either of those places, not because they 'close'  though, because we didn't want to be surrounded by tourists day and night for 6 months a year. We live not far away though which gives us the option to go there when we choose and escape when it all becomes an overload of quad bikes, 'special offer day trips' and sunburnt Brits. 

It often comes as a surprise to people that we don't go out every night and to the beach every day. Once I was asked how we got our washing done like there was some kind of room service - they seemed surprised when I told them we had a washing machine and I did it just like they did in the UK!   

We are currently in a lovely time of year to live in Cyprus - the 'calm before the storm'  the days are longer and warmer and these places are still relatively quiet (well, if you ignore the mad refurbishment and tidy up operations going on everywhere!) This is the ideal time to get out before the masses arrive and enjoy the lovely island at peace. 

Written as part of my Discovering Cyprus series of posts and for The Gallery  prompt 'At peace'

Monday, 2 April 2012

Teddy Bear Picnic Party

Regular readers will have gathered by now that my Mum is a bit of a teddy bear fan, so what better way to celebrate her birthday than with an Teddy Bear's picnic!

Leo was involved in much of the preparations despite not being a fan of the theme at first, trains are more his thing and had to be persuaded that Nana prefers bears!

In the week leading up to her birthday we made Teddy Bear holders for the cutlery...Bear shaped cut outs with paws and feet stuck on, then glued to empty toilet roll holders which we painted brown. 

We also decorated cut out teddy bears to make a banner for the window.

The cake was a teddy, baked by Leo and I but decorated by me... the first 'novelty' cake I've done. (Usually I bake and Aaron decorates!) 

Party food was a selection of sandwiches, salad and homemade onion dip (first time I'd made that and it was yummy!) crisps, and bear shaped cheese pastry bites.  I also made 'paw print cupcakes to go with the main cake. 

I gave Mum an invite in her birthday card in the morning, inviting her to come to ours for a birthday lunch and to 'bring a bear'    Dad may have slightly misread it as while Mum arrived with Travel Ted, he came with a bottle of beer!

Before she arrived Leo helped me to set up his bears on a picnic blanket with plates and food, he really enjoyed the setting up of it but I then had to persuade him not to kick it all over before everyone arrived!  

Unknown to Mum I'd invited the neighbours so in all there were 9 of us, slightly more than that if you include all the bears!

When we took the balloons down, Leo said 'Nana's party's all gone now... it means it's mine now!'   He was a little disappointed when I explained it might be his next but it was still a few weeks away yet!

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