Tuesday, 31 December 2013

365 Project - Week 52.

365 Project - take a photo a day for a whole year..... DONE!

I was unsure whether to commit to taking a photo every day for a year but as I take so many photos I thought it wouldn't be too hard, I was actually more worried about getting round to getting them all up on the blog!

Aaron said I'd manage 2 weeks at best which I thought was a bit rubbish and so spurred on by the Queen of 365 - The Boy and Me I decided to give it a go.

I've done it (I may have missed one day, I got a bit confused with the numbering somewhere in August but it may just be the numbers rather than a photo missing, I neither know nor care!) and I'd never do it again!

From October it started feeling a little like wading through treacle and it seemed so near yet so far till Day 365, to be honest if I wasn't such good friends with TBAM I'd have given up right then but she kept her foot firmly on my backside and I carried on!

So, here we go 365 done and dusted and here are the last 10 days....

Window cleaning /  Watching his 'Santa video' / 
Choosing the snacks to leave for Santa on Christmas Eve. 

Presents / Boxing Day on the beach / Bundle!

 Drinking big brothers drink! / First Lego creations

364 - Together in electric dreams

I'm glad I did it although I don't feel like it improved my photography in anyway. I still love taking photos but am happy to go back to taking them because I want to rather than because I have to and taking loads on one day or none at all if I don't feel like it!

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?

As a child Christmas Eve was a long day, spent annoying my Mum and being impatient for Santa to come, but in the last couple of years I think I might even prefer it to Christmas day itself!

In one of our Christmas books 'Kipper's Christmas Eve'  the dog Kipper asks

'Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?  What's better presents or expecting presents?'

I certainly noticed an air of excitement in the house this Christmas Eve now that Leo understands the whole thing and even though Louka is still too young he was picking up on it more so than he could have done last year at 5 months old.

In order to stop us all from going crazy we took a late afternoon trip into the local town of Paralimni to see the lights and get some fresh air. I was really pleased we did.

In the main square was a merry go round and a free bouncy castle with a tunnel and a slide (which Leo was very pleased to point out to us). It looked like there had been a market and entertainment earlier in the day from the remains of the stage and the huts set up but it was still a nice place to have a walk around listening to the Christmas songs being played through loudspeakers attached to the lamp posts. 

Maybe I'm just a big kid, but it did feel a bit magical and the evening was full of anticipation.  Leo even got off the bouncy castle without a moan when I said it was time to go home and reminded him he had to go to bed nicely!

We got home and I surprised the boys with our snuggle sack tradition that I started last year. Containing new PJ's - the first matching clothing the boys have ever worn, chocolate to share, a Christmas book, their stockings and a 'Santa Stop Here sign' announcing they had both been good.

Leo then choose the goodies to leave out for Santa, hung the stockings, re-watched his video from Santa and went off happily to bed full of excitement. 

Aaron and I had put some festive music on, had a couple of drinks, opened the chocolates and helped Santa with the presents.

Choosing the snacks for Santa

It was a lovely evening and I came to the conclusion that I prefer the build up to Christmas more than the day itself, already I felt a little sad it was all very soon to be over!

What about you?  Do you prefer Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?

Imagination - Nature or Nurture?

Do children have to be taught 'how' to play?, or is it something that evolves naturally?

Imagination has never been my strong point and I was forever bugging my Mum by saying I was bored and asking her what I could do. I was never one to play for hours with a box or be creative. I enjoyed my Sindy dolls except after spending an age setting up the house and dressing them all I'd sit staring blankly at them not knowing what they should do next.

Leo seems to be heading the same way, at home he is happiest playing the Wii but take him off it and he doesn't seem to know what to do, and I'm struggling to help him.

We build tracks but he loses interest as soon as they are built unless I tell him what 'emergencies' are happening or what jobs the engines need to do.

He loves to paint but he doesn't know what to paint unless I tell him,

He likes to make stuff but unless I see an idea on pinterest I don't know what to suggest, he then wants to watch me do it.

He wants help with everything, 'you glue that Mummy, you draw it, you build it' - is that a normal four year old response or have I taken over too much in the past?

I've seen many blogs posting about 'An invitation to play' and in the absence of me having an original idea of my own it seems like a good place to start. Taking inspiration from one of my favourite blogger friends it's something I'm going to aim for in the New Year.

I know it works as I found out back in the summer with our 'Pirate themed Ice play, I'm not quite up to the pinterest ideals of coloured rice and fake snow but I'm thinking we can start with some themed toys and a couple of suggestions to get him going.

I've never been big on New Year resolutions but I need to get him away from the TV and back to playing next year, and yes I also need to step away from the laptop, and phone, and tablet.....  I realise where the problem may have arisen!

I will do my best to leave the excuses behind, and get on with it.

Now, if we can just overcome the big bundle of chaos that is the little brother, or come up things for both of them to do together which doesn't trash the place, make them fight or give me a nervous breakdown that would be brilliant!

What about your children, do you have to 'invite' them to play or do they run away with their own imagination?

Image credit

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Boxing Day at the Beach

I've often heard of many people going for a Boxing day stroll, getting out the house for a bit, walking off the excess chocolates, and as a child I always enjoyed going out with my Dad to walk the dogs. As I got older and without the NEED to go out due to dogs I've always given it up in favour of the sofa.

It turns out I'm really really not an 'outdoorsy' person and I'm in awe of the fab bloggers who join in with Coombe Mill's Country Kids link up week after week. I hang my head in shame that we are not out half as much and I'm often heard to say it's too cold / windy / might rain, 

Boxing day morning looked a bit grim and very windy and I cursed the fact that we'd arranged to meet some friends for a walk but Leo was excited so we went ahead anyway. 

Here is a good reason why I should always do that....

By the time we'd got to Protaras the sun had broken through and the wind had died down!

The waves were quite lively and we should have known better once the boys started playing at the waters edge and taken shoes and socks off BEFORE they got wet!

Leo and his friend loved it and I was very surprised that Leo was reasonably happy to all the way back along the path without his soggy sandy shoes on.  They were soon stripped down to their tops and pants and must have been freezing but they seemed quite happy - we should have just done that in the first place!

For once I did feel better having gone out, rather than even more tired and harassed than usual, could be due to the fact that Louka never left the buggy as he was sleepy though!

We've only been to the beach a handful of times in 2013 so looks like this has to change!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Sunday, 22 December 2013

365 Project - Week 51

Just one week to go.... and he said I'd manage 2 weeks!

A Christmassy day out at the maze - after fab days out for Easter and Halloween we couldn't resist a Christmas themed one!   This time we searched for decorations in the maze, and found reindeer hiding in the herb garden with Christmas messages, as well as the secret keys with a letter on each which spelled a word.

Agios Vassilis (Santa) came to school!  All the children had their photo taken with him and received a lovely mug, personalised with their name and school year on it.

Leo received his letter and 'good' certificate via 'Santa's Cyprus Postbox', he loved it (although was not too impressed to be made to pose for a photo!) and has proudly stuck his certificate on his bedroom door!

Struggling now on Day 352 of the year and resorting to late night photos of the most interesting thing I can see in the room!

Leo loving a piggy back ride from his big cousin during their flying visit to Cyprus.

Cuddles with Mardi (Aaron's Mum) who was here for 4 days with Aaron's nephew.

'It's a cracker' - Leo was laughing his head of at the cracker jokes during our pre-Christmas family dinner.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Our Cyprus Christmas celebrations so far...

Christmas is coming and preparations are in full swing in our household,We have a simple uncomplicated Christmas so although I'm not rushing round the shops like a nutter I like to create my own festive build up. 

The festivities started with a Traditional Christmas Market in Pyla, orgainised by 'Just So Crafty'. Leo saw Santa and for the first time sat with him and spoke to him quite happily without me holding his hand.  He was a bit confused as he left holding his little present telling me sadly that it wasn't what he'd asked him for, but was quite happy when I explained that it was just a little 'pre-Christmas' gift!

Christmas market Pyla, Cyprus

The following day was the switching on of the Christmas lights in Agia Napa, we've been every year that we've lived here and this year it really felt as if Christmas had arrived when we were there. 

Agia Napa Christmas lights Cyprus

It was a busy weekend as on the Sunday was Leo's school farye and another good afternoon.  Leo did very well singing with his class on stage and enjoyed getting to meet Agios Vassilis, (Father Christmas in Greek)  I love the fact that he knew to speak to him in Greek whereas the previous Santa he spoke to in English!
Agios Vassilis in Cyprus

The Big Red Bus was there again and that was enjoyed by us all, even Loukas got to come on this year too.! Leo was very brave and even enjoyed a pony ride where as last year he cried to come off!  

Christmas donkey ride

We were on a roll after our big festive start to the month and made our annual visit to the primary school on the British Army base. The differences between the two schools never fails to amaze me and I love my little peak at England each year!

The main focus for Leo this month had been practicing for his school play which was this Tuesday. Leo was the first 'wise man' and I couldn't have been prouder of him. He remembered all his (Greek) lines and played the part perfectly. He almost lost his voice at the end as he was shouting so much during the last two songs - they tell the children to shout as loud as they can and he was desperate to do his best!

Still to come we have a Christmas party at a local pub tomorrow,dinner with friends on Sunday and best of all a visit from Aaron's mum and nephew who are coming from England for 5 days.

I've been in full on baking mode this week with Mince pies, chocolate shortbread, truffles, coconut ice and more all ready for gifts and family treats. Presents are mainly wrapped and decorations are up, and the letters from 'Santa's Cyprus Postbox' have all been distributed, so now I intend to relax and enjoy it!

Saturday, 7 December 2013

365 Project - Week 49

Leo's school fair and a big difference from last year.  He hated the pony ride then but this year he asked to have a go and really enjoyed it.

Louka, surprisingly loves the reindeer antlers and keeps trying to put them on at every opportunity.

Leo trying to teach Louka 'Yiamas' / 'Cheers'

Not sure if Leo is being affectionate or trying to stop him from doing something!

Dusk over Varosha, taken from our balcony

'Anything interesting happening down there?'

Time for a rest Louka?

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Friday, 6 December 2013

Our Cyprus Christmases - Flashback Friday

Four years ago Aaron, Leo and I were settling into to our new home, having been in Cyprus for almost 2 weeks. Christmas was coming and we'd hardly finished unpacking before the decorations went up in our apartment. It was a strange Christmas that year, we'd left all our family and friends and were yet to meet many people here, it was Leo's first Christmas but of course he had no idea what was going on and we'd just left a country where Christmas was in full swing to arrive in one where it appeared to be non-existent.
2009, Leo's first Christmas

Despite that we did have a nice time, and looking back I like the fact that our first family Christmas was together and simple, I was not worried about how it went, I think I was still in a state of shock at the fact I was now living in Cyprus!

How did Santa find us in Cyprus?

In 2010, I was not feeling very festive, I spent most of December feeling that something was missing and even the decorations looked strange to me! For someone who loves Christmas as much as me it was very odd that it took me until the 21st to feel festive according to this blog post! I'd even considered not having a tree!

Christmas 2010

I've always said that 'Christmas is not just a day, it's a season'  (partly to wind Aaron up, and partly because it says so in the song) and I felt that there was no build up, I'm wondering now if there was but I just missed it somehow! We did have a lovely day though, with dinner at our friends (the first time I've ever been somewhere other than home for Christmas day) and Boxing day spent with them too. 

Leo, Christmas 2010

2011 saw the arrival of my parents in March so I guess that made Christmas feel a bit more 'like it used to' although I had just found out I was pregnant and spent most of the time in shock, whilst watching everyone else drink the booze I'd just stocked up on before finding out!

Christmas in Agia Napa Cyprus
Waving to Santa in 2011

Last year, I feel it all started to change though.
Loukas had arrived, Leo was 3 and there suddenly seemed a lot more happening in Cyprus, or more likely it was that Leo appreciated the events a little more.  From the lights switch on in Agia Napa, to his school fete, Christmas show, trips to see Santa and the Christmas Avenue there was plenty to keep us busy and in a festive mood. 

Deryniea Christmas Avenue
Christmas 2012

This year when we went to see the Agia Napa lights, I had a real moment where I realised a big change had occurred.  As we approached the square with the music playing and crowds of people, I turned to my Dad and said 'Yep, NOW its Christmas' 

Four years of doing the same thing each year, with Aaron, Leo and now Loukas and my parents and that moment it seemed to me that Christmas had begun. 

Christmas in the sun?  No longer a problem!

Linking up to Flashback Friday and The Sunday Traveller

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