Wednesday, 31 October 2012


Love it or hate it even in Cyprus where it's not widely acknowledged you can't avoid the fact it's Halloween, so it's no surprise that this weeks Gallery theme is 'Frightful' 

It didn't take me long to figure out what photo to dig out the archives...

Scary clown, fancy dress, Butlins, halloween

Meet Scary Clown, aka my husband in his favourite fancy dress costume of all time! 

This was his outfit of choice on a adult party weekend at Butlins several years ago. I tried to disown him for the night but as much as we tried we couldn't lose him even in a packed nightclub, you could always tell where he was by the screams coming from random people as they ran away!   

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Dividing the housework

This week Aaron finished work for the winter, he's worked so hard for the last 7 months and we've both been looking forward to his time off.  Aaron is looking forward to spending time with the boys and having some time to rest and recover from working 7 days a week for so long..... I'm just wondering how long to give him before I hit him with the 'to do list'

He's going to get off lightly in my opinion  there are few big things I want doing around the apartment but I certainly don't intend to do all the household / childcare jobs on my own now he's here full time too!

We do seem to always fall into the same jobs though - emptying bins, cleaning windows and ironing are always down to Aaron,   Mopping and sweeping is usually a joint effort, but there is one thing that is always completely down to me...... Aaron does not do washing up.....EVER.

To be fair, I did know this long before we got married and being a Kitchen Designer he knew how best to compare dishwashers and find the best dishwasher deals. When we brought our first house he redesigned our small kitchen to make sure we could fit one in.

Our kitchen in our apartment did not have space for a dishwasher so he redesigned this one too and gave the plans to the developers before they even started building the apartment block.

Unfortunately our dishwasher packed up over a year ago and we have not had the funds to replace it, there is now a very sad gap in our kitchen awaiting the time when we can get a new one. Until then we I have to make sure I find him enough other chores to do to balance out the time I spend at the sink!

Monday, 29 October 2012

Autumn wreath craft

October is probably my favourite month now I live in Cyprus, it used to be July or August in the UK, working on the principle that there was the most chance of a bit of summer then.  The temperature here slowly starts to cool at this time of year, and after the long hot summer (made much longer and hotter by being big and pregnant!) its a welcome relief!

Being quite excited by the change of season I thought it would be good to do something to mark it and teach Leo that there is more than just 'Summer' and 'Winter'

Last year we made an 'Autumn Tree' and this year my 'crafty' friend and I decided to make some Autumn wreaths with the kids after seeing 'The Boy' making one.

I'm all for simplicity when it comes to crafts and this certainly fitted the bill!

Cardboard circles, crayons, glue, ribbon and different coloured paper leaves was all we needed, along with the patience to explain why we there weren't just green leaves.

They were quite bemused by us trying to explain that leaves fall off the trees in Autumn and they turn all different colours, I don't think they really believed us! Although they weren't really sure what we were talking about they had fun and actually listened to what we were trying to get them to do.

First we gave them crayons to colour the card, and then let them choose their 'leaves' to stick all around, with the addition of a bit of red ribbon they now hang proudly on the wall.

I'd love to take Leo to kick the leaves and go hunting for conkers but the trees here just don't act like a tree should this time of year!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Slimming World Carbonara & Weigh in

I've been trying to get back on track this week so I've been making an effort to plan all meals to Slimming World friendly and cooking enough to eat them for the following days lunch where possible. We've had home-made meatballs and spaghetti, omelette and chips and one of my current favourites, Spaghetti Carbonara.

I've seen many Slimming World recipes for Spaghetti Carbonara over the years but they all use Quark and apart from the fact I can't stand the stuff (have tried SO many different ways of using it but I still know it's in there!) it's not at all easy to get here. I found this one which uses low fat fromage frais in one of my SW recipe books and adapted it slightly

It's quick and easy and doesn't taste like a 'Slimming' dinner.

Fry roughly chopped bacon in Fry Light for 2-3 minute until cooked
Beat an egg, stir in some 'very low fat fromage frais' and chopped herbs.
Add to bacon with heaps of boiled spaghetti and cook over a low heat until the egg starts to set.

I use a low fat 'Philadelphia' type cheese as fromage frais is virtually impossible to get here. I'm not 100% sure of the syns in the one I use but I remember seeing it at my group last year so I believe it's low!

Weigh in time....

Very pleased with this week, down 3lb so a total of 1/2 stone....   now where's my sticker?

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The Hungry Caterpillar and the Unhappy Butterfly

This week's Gallery theme is 'Books'

I can't remember a time when I didn't read. There have been so many books over the years I'd loved, I have no idea how many books I've read but for each time of life there are always a few which stick out in your mind, even as far back as  I can remember, back to my play-school days....

No prizes for guessing which classic book we were characters from...

It was our playschools end of year show, I was the butterfly and all I had to do was crawl out of the cocoon (a table covered in brown paper)  after my friend the hungry caterpillar had crawled into the other side.

I was very shy anyway and wasn't very happy about doing it probably but unfortunately I hit my head on the table as I came out - I can still remember the pain!    I saw my Mum in the audience and ran straight to her crying!

No amount of persuasion could get me back on stage, I think in the end my Mum came up too!

Linking up to Flashback Friday and The Gallery

Friday, 19 October 2012

Flashback Friday - Home improvements

A rather random flashback but as we approach the winter season and many people here are coming to the end of their seasonal work contracts there is lots of talk of plans for home improvements (well, mainly from the women whose men will suddenly be off work, not so much from the men themselves! )

It made me think of the biggest and best home improvement we've ever done, with the possible exception of building a wall and creating a bedroom for Leo (when I say we, clearly I mean I made tea and Aaron worked!)

When we moved into our first house together back in 2003 the garden needed a lot of work, so much in fact that we left it for several years while we worked out what we could do to make it better.  The problem was a raised section that was separated from the rest by a huge wall that was also on a steep slope and not really big enough to do anything with.

After much debating, discussion and drawing of plans we decided that decking the whole thing would be a good idea.  We did not have the money to pay someone to do it, so despite the fact that neither my Dad or Aaron had done it before they decided to give it a go and do it themselves.

It took 2 weeks of very hard work, lots of cups of tea and many bacon sandwiches but look what they created!

I loved my new garden so much and was full of plans for lovely evenings sitting out on the deck - Aaron even had the genius idea of putting a double power point on it for a light and stereo.  I used to finish work at 5pm and on a sunny day had just enough time to catch the last of the days sun by sitting right at the top next to the big plant pot whilst drinking a glass of wine!

Unfortunately we didn't get to use the deck all that much, it was built at the beginning of a really rubbish summer, and we spent most of it looking out the window through the rain at our lovely new garden!   We had a huge BBQ planned for Aaron's birthday that year and it poured so hard with rain that we had to go out and buy a second gazebo for people to stand under!  The only time we had friends round that whole year and no-one even ventured up that far!

Although I still feel a bit sad that we didn't get to use it ourselves I think it was the improved garden that sold the house for us. The couple that came to view loved it and got very excited about the parties they could have out there (I didn't like to mention it would probably rain!).

We sold the house just before the recession started and all the prices dropped so we were very lucky to have sold when we did so it was still a very worthwhile DIY project.  I still miss my new garden even though we have a big balcony with a lovely view, although I don't miss the weather!

Linking up to Flashback Friday

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Week 3 - Trying to stay on track

It's very hard when following any diet / eating plan to stay on track 100% of the time, the secret is learning how to get back on it, or preferably not veer too far from it in the first place.

This hasn't been a 100% week for me, it was my birthday so I knew it was never going to be!  Despite the fact I always joke that cake is syn free on your birthday (well, it should be!) celebrations inevitably  mean the temptation to eat and drink 'bad' things.

As often happens I celebrated my birthday over two days, my actual birthday and then a meal out the following day as it was the weekend. From a Slimming World point of view it could have been worse though.  I kept to the plan on the actual day apart from a big chunk of birthday cake and on the day of the meal I kept to it all day, until we reached the restaurant that is!

I knew I had the choice, and I could have certainly made better choices in the evening but the fact was I'd been waiting 9 months for a good drink and one of my favourite meals - so a fillet steak covered in Roquefort sauce with chips (could have had a Jacket potato but I'd have only covered it in butter!) washed down with a couple of pints of lager and 2 pina coladas was a special birthday treat for me.

The problem is not so much the 'off plan' evening, but how you deal with it the following day - does that evening turn into a weekend, and then spill over into the following week?

Well, sort of!
We went to picnic on Saturday and although I took a SW friendly pasta salad, I ended up picking at all the other yummy food instead. At this point it's very easy to think you've blown the week and as you will not have lost any weight you may as well not worry too much about what to have for dinner.

It's all about 'Damage limitation' as my consultant used to say, so I made an effort to keep cooking SW meals and went back to snacking on fruit and yoghurt in between times for the rest of the week.  Accept the fact you didn't stick to it, put it behind you and carry on.

Image credit

Weigh in time...
I was hoping optimistically for a small loss or more likely to have stayed the same but I put on 1lb.   Oh well, here's looking forward to next week.    Now I'm aiming for 2lb off to reach my 1st   half a stone!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Something Old....Something Borrowed

This week's Gallery theme is old.

When my Mother in law got married she spent £5 on her bridal veil........   Five WHOLE pounds.  Her Mum was not happy and thought it was far too much to spend on something she would just wear once.

It's a good job then that my sister in law borrowed it from her Mum for her own wedding

and then.....

I think it was money well spent, don't you?

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Learning English in Cyprus for children

Our family have always had a big love of reading and a house full of books, my Mum taught me to read before I stared school and Leo has also caught the reading bug.  He has had his own books and been read to from a very early age - in fact I often read out loud to him from whatever I was reading at the time when he was only few weeks old (it was the only time I got to read and he used to sit happily on my lap and listen)

I'd heard many English parents here in Cyprus worry about their child's English and end up getting private tuition for them as they progress through school to keep them up to speed in case they have to go back to England to study at any point.  It concerned  me that there was going to be an extra thing to worry about, but I thought with the wealth of information and resources available surely we'd be able to do it ourselves?

I know that it's often said parents should leave teaching to the teachers, in case we teach them 'wrong'. (In fact my Mum was told off by my first teacher as she had taught me the 'proper' alphabet and not phonics.)  but Leo is not at an English school so who knows how (and when) he will be taught the language anyway.

Image credit: Reading Eggs.
Then I found the exact kind of thing I'd been thinking of.....

Reading Eggs is an online world where children learn to read.  Aimed at 3 to 7 year olds.

The program has been developed by a highly experienced team of educational teachers, writers and developers. The Reading Eggs program focuses on a core reading curriculum of phonics and sight words using skills and strategies essential for sustained reading success. It completely supports what children learn at school and will help improve your child's results at school

Leo loves to use the laptop and has been playing on the Thomas & Friends website for a while now so I wondered what he would make of this.  I told him I had a new game to show him which could teach him how to read. He was very excited and dived right in.

He already knows his alphabet well, upper and lower case (I didn't make any point of specifically teaching him, it just kind of happened) and he was a bit annoyed at first as to why the letters were not coming in the right order (they focus on the sounds and high frequency words to get them reading their first simple words and sentences) and why they were saying 'mmm' rather than 'M' but after I explained that each letter has a sound as well he was quite happy to continue!

The first time he used to program he was frustrated at how repetitive it was and was more interested in the additional games and nursery rhyme videos to play and then asked to do something else after a very short time. The following day though he came home from school and immediately asked to play the 'new reading game'

Since then he's asked to play almost every day and is now loving it.  We have reached lesson 26 and he's enjoying every second. I've noticed how it's improving his reading skills and am highly impressed at how well he's doing.

At first he was getting lots of things wrong but I quickly realised he liked to see what happened when he clicked a wrong answer! Every 10 lessons there is a reading quiz, and you have to get enough right to be able to progress to the next level. He looked quite hurt when it said he hadn't got enough right and wouldn't let him go any further, I explained he needed to listen to the questions and try his best get them right (I had a feeling he hadn't been listening to the questions) and asked him if he wanted to try again.... he did and promptly got every question correct and earned himself a gold certificate.

I think the appeal lies in the colourful characters, and the way it progresses, Leo enjoys working his way across the map and unlocking new lessons and games.  I asked him what he liked about it - his reply 'Because it's fun'

I'm very impressed with the program, and at £29.95 for 6 months or just £39.95 for one year subscription I think it's a really good price, especially for those outside the UK like myself looking for some extra help.

Reading Eggs are offering an extended free trial
Just visit the website,uk and 
sign up using code  UKB24MBT 
this will give you a 5 week free trial instead of the 
usual 2 weeks that new registrations usually receive.

I received a trial of the Reading Eggs program but the views and opinions are my own (and Leo's) 

Monday, 15 October 2012

The best bouncy castle in the world!

Apart from the beach and pools there are very few good places to take little ones here in Cyprus. Parks are very few and far between and are usually not all that good and play areas are often a little bit worse for wear - usually sun-damaged and sometimes the toys can be quite dangerous. 

So we were quite excited this year when an established restaurant in nearby Kapparis opened up a play area.  Initially we were disappointed that it didn't open until 6pm but realised it would be just too hot to go there during the day.  

It costs €6 euro per child to enter and they can stay as long as they wish. We've been twice now in the last month, first for a 'Mum's and Kids' meet up arranged via Facebook for anyone who fancied joining us, and then again on Friday to celebrate my birthday (You know you're getting old when you pick somewhere like this!) 

The play area has the best bouncy castle I've ever seen, and a huge inflatable bouncy slide, along with a couple of trampolines, swings and  a ball pool (which could actually do with a helluva lot more balls in it!) Leo absolutely loves it, and the big kid in me loves it too!  I had a ball running around on the bouncy castle with him, and going on the big slide but was pleased that he also happily played without me as it was exhausting!

On Friday to celebrate my birthday we also had dinner there, prices were not as cheap as I'd expected (although I probably shouldn't have chosen one of the most expensive things - Fillet steak with Roquefort sauce, but I had been waiting 9 months to have something like that!) but the menu is good and they do everything from burgers and omelettes to traditional Cypriot meze and Klefitko.   They also have an extensive cocktail menu which I thought I should try out :)

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Slimming World Friendly Quiche & Week 2 Weigh in

If I had to pick one product that helped me the most with Slimming World it would have to be Batchelors 'Pasta & Sauce.  Pre SW (and pre-children) I used to eat at lot of ready meals and processed food, 'Pasta & Sauce' being one of them. When I started the plan I was very happy to find they were 'free' on Green days (or very low in syns for some flavours).

Although I started cooking most meals from scratch I found these to be a life saver many times and always made sure I had several packet in the cupboard. Not only were they quick and easy to make I actually really enjoyed them unlike most other SW friendly 'easy' foods. 

Handily they are also in the shops out here and they are a sensible price unlike many other imports. 

They are great on their own, or with the addition of some herbs or chilli flakes but I also use them to make a 'Slimming World Quiche'

You need:
One packet 'Pasta & Sauce'  any flavour but Tomato & Herb works very well
2 eggs
Tub low fat cottage cheese

28g Low fat cheddar cheese (optional)  (a healthy A choice)
Whatever else takes your fancy - herbs, chilli, tabasco, salt & pepper   etc

Make up the 'Pasta & Sauce as directed on the packet, leaving out the optional knob of butter and replacing the milk with water.  (if I'm eating it on its own I use milk and count the syns but you don't notice in the quiche)

Pour the cooked pasta into a quiche dish lined with foil.

Beat the eggs and add the cottage cheese to the mixture. I then give it a whizz with the hand blender to smooth it down as I'm not a fan of the texture of cottage cheese but you don't have to.

Pour the egg mixture over the pasta.

You can add anything you fancy now - tomatoes, mushrooms, bacon (if following Extra Easy, or count it as syns) etc.

Cook for about 30 minutes, or until it looks 'quiche like'  

If using cheese, grate and sprinkle over a few minutes before the end of cooking.

You can eat it hot or cold, and it's a great thing to have in the fridge to pick at during the day. If you eat the entire thing you will only be using a 'healthy A choice' for the cheese.  (assuming the flavour pasta you chose is syn free) but it's quite a lot to eat in one go, especially if you serve it with salad.  (although I've eaten a whole one on several occasions!) 

Week 2 weigh in....

After my great first week I was very careful to stick to the plan to keep up the momentum. I managed to do my workout DVD twice, whilst stopping every now and again to rock Louka in his baby bouncer whilst he watched me. I was pleased this morning to see I've lost another 2lb.

That's a total of 6lb so next week I'm aiming for 1lb to reach my first 1/2 stone  :)

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

My Birth story - Part three

After the hugely painful but overall brilliant birth of Loukas I was taken back to the ward. It had two beds but at that point I had it all to myself, with TV and free wi-fi plus a great view I was very comfortable.

The midwives took Louka for a few hours so I could rest which was most appreciate. They loved this 'big baby' with his head of gorgeous blonde hair, something which must be very unusual for them. They often popped in for no apparent reason during my stay just to see him!

I was quite happy in the hospital unlike when I had Leo where I couldn't wait to get out, although this time I was appreciating the time to rest before starting the new chapter of my life with two children.  Aaron came to see me after work and to meet his second son. He stayed just a short while so he could get home relive my parents and put Leo to bed.  My parents then popped in afterwards as I had not felt up to seeing Leo right away, preferring to be able to greet him properly when I did.

Leo got to meet his brother the following day although he was mainly bemused by this little thing lying in the cot. He was so happy to see me, running in saying 'Mama I missed you soooo much'. He jumped up onto the bed and suddenly looked to me like he had got bigger and much older in just over 24 hours. 
They stayed for an hour or so, until Leo got bored of being stuck in one room and started asking to go home, he was a bit sad when he realised I wasn't going too but he left without too much of a fuss. 

They like to keep you in for 3 full days after birth but Aaron had booked the Tuesday off work and it was to be his only day off until winter so I asked if I could leave then. They were reluctant as Louka was born at 4pm so letting me go Tuesday morning was a bit early. However as my doctor lives below me he agreed telling me to knock if I had any problems. 

Overall it was a much better experience the giving birth first time round. I know every birth is different but I believe the main difference was due to having Claire there. Not only did it take the pressure off Aaron to be there when he really did not enjoy the first time at all but her knowledge and experience was far more useful than anything he could have done for me. 

If it wasn't for Claire I wouldn't have been as active during early labour which I'm sure helped speed things up, and I certainly would have demanded pain relief.  Although I never planned to do it without and didn't see any point in trying to, I'm so glad that I did. I think it made all the difference to the length of labour and my recovery afterwards compared to last time, and it also meant that it was all a lot clearer.   I can't thank her enough!


Tuesday, 9 October 2012

My birth story - Part two

You can find Part 1 here.

After checking my blood pressure and monitoring baby's heartbeat I was hooked up to the drip to start the contractions off at 10.30am. It was a low dose to begin with so the contractions started quickly but  were mild and caused me no problems.

Claire was great at keeping me moving, something I didn't do at all with Leo. We walked up and down the ward corridor chatting about all kinds of random stuff while I kept tangling myself up with my drip!  She had me bouncing on the birth ball and doing squats, all things I wouldn't have been doing without her encouragement. The midwives were great at letting me keep moving, something they are not generally known for after induction, and they only popped in now and again just to monitor me.

I had been told no food or drink, something guaranteed to upset me in any circumstances but Claire smuggled me sips of water, snack-a-jacks and fruit polos every time they turned their backs  - a complete lifesaver for me!

At 2.30pm the contractions were getting very painful. Claire had been massaging my back but this was now no longer taking my mind off the pain. By 3pm I was starting to lose the plot and asked her to get me some pethidine, she said I didn't need it as was doing great as I was.

When Claire then predicted that I'd have a baby by 7pm (changing from her earlier guess of 4pm because of how things were progressing) I wanted to cry - five more hours of this pain, not a chance! The contractions were so painful I remember wondering how I could possibly survive that much pain for that long. I NEEDED the drugs!

I told Claire I had to have it, she said wait ten minutes, to which I replied 'I know what you're doing, you'll say its too late then' She answered with a smile 'If it's too late then you'll be about to have a baby and you won't need them any more'

I was examined again at 3pm and told I was 6cm dilated, I cried and told Claire that at 8cm dilated with Leo I still had 8 hours to go.  Her reply - 'Yes, that's because you had the drugs, you can have them now but it will probably slow the labour right down.'

That was the thing that swung it for me, it still bloody hurt with pethidine last time and I needed this to be over as soon as possible so I agreed, no drugs, I'll power through and get on with it.

Claire had asked me earlier in the day to choose a focal point,something to take my mind off the pain, again I silently thought she was mad but picked the red flashing light on the smoke alarm to keep her happy.  I had no idea but that actually did turn out to be the thing that kept me going throughout the pain!

Somewhere around 3.30pm I needed to push, I was told not to, cue more tears - I couldn't NOT push!

I was now staring at that smoke alarm like my life depended on it and arguing between contractions about how much I needed to push so they examined me again and suddenly decided I had to be moved to the delivery suite right away...

I bloody told them I needed to push!

Once in the delivery room they got my legs up in stirrups and finally said I could push, It was unbelievably painful but luckily there was another smoke alarm on the ceiling in there and Claire was right bedside me keeping me focused on it whilst fanning me with a laminated bit of paper (in the rush to the delivery room she left her fan behind!)   I wonder now what the midwives thought of her keep shouting 'smoke alarm, Emma, focus!'

It wasn't long until the doctor said she could see the head, 'one more push and he'll be out' I have to say that I didn't believe her, they had said that several times with Leo. So I was stunned that it was actually true - another huge push and then the rest of him followed!

I was amazed, I saw my belly go down as they caught him and wrapped him up. I actually had no words (strange for me I know!)  but I laughed / cried with relief - Thank God it was over! As they passed him to me I remember smiling to myself and thinking 'Not even a f***king paracetamol!'

I was surprised to see such a head of blonde hair, Leo's had been jet black.  They handed him to me but I held him just for minute, they were stitching me up and it was so painful that I didn't feel I could hold him properly.

Half an hour later I was back on the ward, they brought him to see me and Claire took our first photo. She then left us to get acquainted and headed home for her well deserved KFC dinner!

You can find part three here...


Monday, 8 October 2012

My birth story - Part one

Loukas is now 6 weeks old and I've finally finished writing my birth story - it's quite long so I've split it into several posts, the rest will be coming up over the next few days.

Although I didn't have a terrible birth with Leo it wasn't the best fun I'd ever had (you can read the story here)   12 hours of labour with gas & air, pethidine  ventouse delivery followed by stitches. I felt like I'd been run over by a truck afterwards and was very uncomfortable for weeks.

My second birth was very different, It's taken me an age to write but here is my story, I tried (and failed) to keep it short and sweet so will split it into several posts just in case I accidentally break the interweb or something!

I was very nervous at first about giving birth again, especially as I was to be doing it here in Cyprus. I'd heard that they don't really 'do' pain relief - no gas and air, no mentions of epidural (although the thought of those make me feel ill anyway) and reluctance to use pethidine  Most Mums I know here said they were only given paracetamol  this terrified me - paracetamol is useless, doesn't even get rid of a headache half the time!

All the way through the pregnancy I figured I'd just MAKE them give me pethidine  I know a lot of people don't like it as it can make the baby drowsy but I don't DO pain so there was no way I intended to do it with nothing.

In our meeting leading up to the birth my Doula Claire said she thought I could do it with no pain relief, I wondered what the hell she was basing that idea on and thought she was a nutter.  I just smiled, nodded and thought just you wait and see!

I was surprised towards the end that I felt much more confident about the birth than I had with Leo. I guess partly as I'd done it before (although I now knew how horrible it would be!) but mainly due to the meetings with Claire. I knew that I wouldn't have to worry about the language barrier which had been a big concern of mine (most hospital staff speak English but it worries me when they talk amongst themselves about you)   I also knew that Claire knew what she was doing and would be able to 'fight my corner' if need be.

I was completely convinced I wouldn't reach my due date so was a bit disappointed when it came and went, I was then scheduled for an induction 5 days after my due date and got even more nervous about how much harder it might make the labour.

On the morning of Saturday 25th August Claire arrived at my house at 8am. We had a cuppa and she helped me get my stuff togethter and made sure she had all the numbers of people I wanted to be kept updated on the events of the day.

We got to the hospital just after 9am and I was taken straight to my room (a ward with 2 beds which I had just to myself at this point). The midwives were lovely and happy for Claire to be there, we'd been a bit worried that they wouldn't want her there as Doula's are not really known in Cyprus.  My Doctor was there too, she is lovely was very helpful and reassuring.

One of the things that I was worried about was being given an enema (which is strange as I'd been worried about 'pooing during labour with Leo). I'd never had one and it really worried me!  They no longer give them in the UK but it's still standard practice here.  It wasn't as bad an experience as I thought however but while I was waiting for it to take effect I did  suddenly realise that this was really all about to happen and felt a bit overwhelmed.

Claire predicted that I would have the baby by 4pm. I didn't even want to hazard a guess!


Friday, 5 October 2012

A 'dinosaur sensation' - Flashback Friday

Last year Leo and I went to the 3rd birthday party of my friend's daughter at our local soft play place.  As part of the party package the kids had a visit from Barney the Dinosaur.  I wondered how Leo would react to him,  he watched Barney regularly on TV (I can't stand the annoying purple thing myself but there is little else on Arabic TV!)  but I thought it might scare him in real life.

As Barney entered I picked Leo up and said 'Look Leo, look who's here?' 

'BARNEY' he said,  'It's Barney come off the tele!'

I asked him if he wanted to go over and see him and he nodded at me, eyes wide with amazement.

At this point most of the other children were trying to get away from him, and were either crying or hiding behind their parents. I slowly walked over with Leo and Barney gave him a wave, Leo didn't wave back but instead held his hand out to give him a 'High five'.  A few of the other children had a cuddle from him, I thought that Leo,being the youngest there would not want one but as we got close enough he held his hands out to him for one!

He was so taken with him and made me follow him around the whole time he was there.  He talked about him for ages afterwards, always saying 'Barney came to my party and gave me a cuddle'   He didn't quite get that it wasn't 'his' party!

That was last October and after not mentioning it for months he asked in the run up to his 3rd birthday if Barney was coming back.  I wasn't sure what he was talking about at first but when I realised I had to explain that he doesn't come to every party!

It was so cute how pleased and amazed he was to meet him, especially as Barney was not one of his 'favourites'   I can't imagine how excited he would be if we actually saw Thomas the Tank Engine!

Linking up to Flashback Friday

Thursday, 4 October 2012

First week weigh in

Each week along with my weigh in post I'll be sharing some aspect of my current or previous Slimming World journey, recipes, tips or just my random thoughts about it. Hopefully it might be of interest to some of you, but if nothing else it will help me stay on track! 

It's the end of the first week of being back on the Slimming World plan.   It's been good to get back on it and I've enjoyed starting to get back in the swing of things.  I've had a good week and stuck to the plan all week (with the one exception of sharing a pizza with Leo at the pool on the weekend, but I used that as my only syns of the day)

So, how did I do?

I lost 4 lb - a very good start I think!

First time round my goal was to aim for a 2 lb a week loss, and to my surprise I pretty much managed it throughout the first year.  Sometimes it was 1 lb and sometimes I stayed the same and but I didn't have too many gains,  and when I did I always knew why so it didn't bother me too much.    Lots of people used to hope for big losses, of 4,5 or 6 lb and occasionally they happened although usually in peoples first weeks of following the plan. I saw many people over the years be despondent at 'only' losing 1 or 2 lb and I could never understand it..... a loss is good whether it is 1 lb or 4 lb, it's all in the right direction. Although I had a lot to lose  I just figured early on that if I kept doing the same thing I'd eventually get to where I wanted to be. 

I believe I kept at the plan for so long and then kept the weight off because I lost it slow and steady. SW is no 'quick fix' diet and I think that's a very good thing,  In my opinion 'faddy diets' lead to 'yo-yo' dieting as it's impossible to keep them up for any length of time.   After all, how long can you live on milkshakes or cabbage soup, or completely cut something out of your diet that you love eating.  

This post is not connected to Slimming World itself, all opinions and advice are my own from my experiences from following the Slimming World plan and not necessarily those given by the company itself. 

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

How my fitness levels changed

Today I dug out my great collection of fitness DVDs, they've been gathering dust for quite a while now due to pregnancy, the heat and general laziness!  But believe it or not most of them have been very well used in their time.  Before I amassed this collection exercise was not a word in my vocabulary, growing up I hated sport (unless it was an excuse to go out drinking)

When I started Slimming World back in 2006 I was pleased to hear you didn't HAVE to exercise but it didn't take me long to realise that it would make a huge difference to my weight loss and that I would actually start to get fit for probably the first time in my life!

My first purchase was the Ministry of Sound Pump it Up DVD, I loved the music and thought it would be fun - but I nearly died when I tried to do it, It was impossible, I couldn't breathe and couldn't get anywhere close to what they were doing on screen. I dismissed it as gimmicky and thought them just an excuse to get fit girls in tiny outfits prancing around- ooh I was angry at it!

Instead I turned to Davina, and her 30 minute workouts, even these made me cry as I found it so hard to keep up with the aerobics, jogging for 60 seconds - not a chance!   I remember sitting on the sofa and telling Aaron it was ridiculous and I'd never be able to do it.  In typical Aaron style he told me not to bother then and stay fat and unfit.(his brilliant reverse psychology in play again)  I sighed and carried on doing what I could.

I got bored with Davina after several weeks so went back to 'Pump it up'.  I still loved the music and decided just to give it a go.   Slowly slowly I got better at it and gradually my weight went down as my fitness level went up.   Once in a habit I did one of the workouts 3 or 4 times a week, either first thing in the morning at the weekend or straight away after coming home from work. I actually loved it, I no longer had bad knees and didn't get backache like I had been so prone to, and I had a flat stomach for the first time ever!

When I got pregnant I brought Davina's pregnancy workout and did it all the way through my pregnancy, even on my actual due date.    After that though is when it all went pear shaped - literally!

With a small baby, and a move to Cyprus on the horizon they all got packed away. I brought them out occasionally afterwards but it was never as easy and I'd lost the habit. Summer was too just too hot to do them in and I was back to finding a load of excuses. But I missed them and I missed feeling as fit.

As I've restarted Slimming world they've now been dragged out again, starting with Davina again (the post pregnancy workout) I plan to work my way back up to my old favourites.  Along with my Slimming World progress I will also be writing about my fitness so feel free to pop back and check that I'm keeping to my plan!

Linking up to The Gallery - this weeks theme is 'Fitness'

Birth in Cyprus - C-section's and Private clinics

Some of the concerns I had about giving birth here in Cyprus were the things I had heard about their eagerness to do caesarean births and the 'whole Doctor knows best attitude with no discussion available. Since hearing from many women it seems that this is not always the case, but can happen, as this story from Veronica shows,  my last post in the 'Birth in Cyprus' series .....

I am a foreigner like you and had very similar concerns to yourself about giving birth in Cyprus not so long ago; I thought I will share my experience. 

I gave birth to 2 children (they are 2 and 4 now), at the same private clinic (Maternity center in Nicosia). Both were natural, though my husband and I went through quite some trouble looking for a doctor who would agree with an idea of natural birth. In fact, the very first doctor we've met was insisting on a caesarean. I did have some complications in my pregnancy, but after a thorough research we found that cesarean is actually not recommended.

The clinic was nice, i.e. clean and spacious rooms. Staff mainly spoke Greek and Russian. They agreed to have my husband present at birth. As I started having contractions, they connected me to the intravenous system. You need to be careful as to what the nurses are injecting there.

The general attitude in Cyprus is that doctors/nurses etc. know best and usually they don’t bother explaining what they are going to do. We were quite misled by this and the first time they injected medicine, which stimulates contractions. I must admit though that it did take less time to deliver that way.

The second delivery (without any medicine) was a lot more painful to an extent that I started asking for "whatever they can give me" to ease the pain. They allowed me to use oxygen mask, which gave me some physiological relief. I had a feeling I was quite "a star", waking up half of Nicosia in the middle of the night :).

I just remember the nurses starring at me with their eyes wide open. They have probably not seen so many natural labors. Finally the doctor arrived (they tend to arrive at the last stage) with the words "next time you will deliver like everybody" (I.e. induced or caesarean, whatever she meant). One last thing to mention is that both times I tore a lot and first time they had to put me to sleep in order to fix it. Because of that I could not really remember the very first moments of birth. Due to the natural way of delivery, in just 2 days I was ready to leave home. 


That's not to say that the private clinics are bad, this story is from Eleni, who also gave birth in a Nicosia Clinic....

I had my baby in a private clinic. ISIS Clinic in Nicosia. I felt safe and looked after during and after the birth. Most importantly they encourage breastfeeding and 'allow' you to have the baby in your room instead of the nursery.

It cost a bomb! Had a c-section and epidural, obviously, so it came out to around seven grand! In all fairness to them, it was like a five star hotel, service wise.

Yes I plan to have my second baby there. Not pregnant anytime soon but just saying...

As I mentioned I was very happy. Breakfast served with a teapot and a choice of solids, fruit and cakes for snacks and lovely warm meals for dinner! It makes all the difference. Nurses were super. I really couldn't have gotten through it without their help and encouragement.

I sort of knew it all. Actually I had read up on everything -even took classes in preparation with hubby- and felt well prepared. If I wish I had known one thing though it would be to be more prepared in case of a c-section. I never thought it would happen to me!

It was not by choice. Baby was in posterior position after 14 hours of labour. I was induced in the morning- after 3 days over my due date. Labour pains carried on for five hours. By then i was only 4 cm dilated so I opted for an epidural, after nine hours I was dilated but the baby was face up so I had an emergency c-section.

To see all the other stories.....visit my Pregnancy and Birth in Cyprus page

Monday, 1 October 2012

Bambino Mio Cloth Nappies - Review

While I was pregnant with Louka I received a set of cloth nappies from Bambino Mio to review. I'd never used cloth before and was slightly apprehensive about it to be honest, especially once I'd remembered how bad newborn poops are!

The nappies I am using are the Bambino Mio two piece nappy system.   Here's what they say about them...

Our award winning cotton nappies are designed to provide maximum absorbency and comfort for your baby.
  • made using a three panel construction with 6-8 layers of cotton (size 1 nappy has 6 layers, size 2 nappies have 8 layers) in the centre and 4 layers of cotton in the outer panels
  • can be folded in various ways to suit the individual needs of baby
  • made from tightly woven 100% cotton
  • long lasting and can often be used on subsequent children

I finally plucked up the courage last week to try them out.... and I'm not entirely sure now what I was so sacred of!

Louka looked ever so cute in the nappy - whatever your views on disposable vs cloth, you can't argue that cloth doesn't look better!

He was completely nonplussed by the change from disposables so I guess he is just as happy in them! They looked comfy and I was pleased to see they are not as bulky as I was expecting,  being a big baby lots of his clothes are getting on the small side already and I was worried that a big bulky nappy would speed that up!

At first I found it quite hard to fold the inserts and fit them in the nappy with the biodegradable nappy liner staying in place, but after watching a video on Youtube I realised I hadn't been doing it quite right!

My main reservation about reusable nappies was the storing of the dirty nappies until washing. This turned out to be not as bad as I expected either,  with a lidded bucket and laundry bag they were very easy to handle and no more unpleasant that trying to get a dirty disposable into a nappy sack (whilst getting the tabs stuck to the bag etc!)   They came out of the wash looking (and smelling!) as good as new and dried lovely and quick in the Cyprus sunshine!

Obviously reusable nappies are much better for the environment but the main advantage for me is the huge saving to be made by not having to buy hundreds of disposable nappies.  Here in Cyprus they are even more extortionate than in the UK so it will really help keep my shopping bills down!

I was surprised how well I ended up getting on with them, and although I think I'll stick to disposables when out and about (they do have a wet nappy bag though which looks very effective and hygenic for bringing dirty ones home) I'm now more than happy to save some cash and spare the landfill sites when indoors!

cloth nappies, reusable
Click for more information on reusable nappies.
Bambino Mio offer a full range of reusable nappies and accessories that will not only save you up to €1,872, but are better for baby and the environment. Available at Mothercare stores or to find out more visit”  

I have received the starter set of nappies for review but the thoughts and opinions are all my own. 

Marching for Cyprus Independence Day

Leo has been at his new 'Big school' for 3 weeks already, he's enjoying it and is now going off each morning without a fuss which is brilliant! Each day when I pick him up he's so pleased to see me but comes out happy and full of beans telling me all about his day.

I've been making sure when I collect him that I'm not late, but also trying not to be too early (I am usually too early for most things!) as I didn't want him to expect me to be the first Mum in each day. This usually means I am sat in the car for a while or I sneak into the school and try and catch a glimpse of him before he sees me.   It amazes me each time I do to see him in this new environment getting on with it and looking so grown up.

On Friday as I pulled up in the car I could see all the children in the playground which was different to usual. I realised that they were all marching with the teachers who were also banging drums and singing.  Each child was waving a Cypriot flag they had made earlier in the day.

I was so pleased to catch sight of Leo marching happily in line with his class, some of the children were not as enthusiastic but it really made me smile to see Leo waving his flag and really enjoying it. When I collected him he proudly showed me the flag he had coloured (in the lines for a change!!)  and told me this is where we live.   I asked him what they had done with the flags afterwards and he decided to show me.....

The 1st of October is Cyprus Independence day and today is a Bank Holiday  It is celebrated with parades and festivals at the schools and have a large military parade in the capital, Nicosia. Cyprus got its independence from Britain in 1960.

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