Thursday, 28 February 2013

There's no place like home.

Last week I flew back to England for four days, for the first time in nearly 3 years.  I left Aaron and the boys here, as Louka does not have a passport yet and it was going to be a whirlwind trip. I was very excited about it and couldn't wait to see my friends again. 

Over the time I was there I wasn't online much, although I did manage to keep up with my 365 project even though I took surprisingly few photos. Between us all we only ended up with one very blurry, and  unattractive picture of us all together which is not going to make it onto facebook let alone here!

I shopped, I slept, I drank, talked and ate, and I was very cold!

Overall it was fantastic few days and I wish I could have spent more time with the girls, but I could not handle that grey weather for much longer!   Apparently I missed some nicer days either side of my trip but it was pretty miserable the whole time I was there - cold, grey, wet and dark.   I must admit that although I was sad to leave each of my friends over the days and was a bit tearful walking into the airport I did have a big grin on my face as the plane took off and within seconds of rising through the clouds was in brilliant blue skies. (It would have been  great photo for my 365 but I'd left my phone in the overhead locker and couldn't be bothered to get it!)

"I see blue skies, through the tears in my eyes, and I realise, I'm going home'
Lyrics from 'I'm Going Home' - 
from The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Random thoughts on my trip to England

It's cold, I knew it was cold but I'd forgotten how much! It snowed pretty much constantly since I arrived, luckily it didn't really settle so didn't cause any problems other than making me feel like I couldn't breathe when I was outside.

cold winter English garden 

Everything looked the same but different.

My friends have not changed one bit, they are still mad lovely and when we started talking it's like we had just seen each other last week.

I know the grey skies don't help but everywhere looks a little more rubbish than I remember,I noticed this in particular on my train journeys.

A four hour flight without kids but after having them is a much more pleasant experience than I realised  before I'd had them.

I'd forgotten how nice sleep was, and although I've only been back a couple of days its already a distant memory again!

It was nice to be back, briefly but I'm happy not to be living there all the time, as much as it would be fantastic to be able to see my friends all the time, it does not feel like home to me any more and after hearing my friends chatting I don't think they have much time to meet anyway now, I'm not used to such fast paced lives!

It was strange at time being without the boys but I can't say I missed them too much! I did think I 'should' have missed them more as everyone said  I would and many people seem to have problems leaving kids behind to have a night out or sleepover but I can cope just fine! This length of time was fine and I wasn't weeping into my pillow at night worrying about them. (I may have wondered if Aaron  was sitting rocking in the corner clutching a bottle of whisky but was sure he'd pretty much have it under control)

Overall, It would be great to be able to go back once a year (although highly unlikely to be possible) but  there's no place like home.

home is where the heart is

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Feeding time!

Now Louka has turned 6 months, it's that time again!

We were very kindly sent a large collection of HiPP Organic products to try out, an experience which was all new to me as I'd only done 'Baby Led Weaning' (BLW) with Leo .

I must admit I was a little bemused by some of the products -a jar called 'My First Banana being one of the them, now I can understand a mix of fruit or vegetables being convenient in a jar but surely anyone could mash a banana!

So, with a little hesitation I decided to try some out with Louka last week. BLW still seems the logical way to go for me so it all did feel a little alien to me and I even emailed the lovely lady who sent it all to us clarifying the 'right' way to do it!

Starting with the baby rice, (which after following the instructions on the packet I ended up with a huge bowl of the stuff - much more than even Leo could have eaten!)  It went well, although with my BLW head on I 'had' to give him the spoon when he reached for it so did end up a little bit messy!

He happily had a couple of spoonfuls, looking a bit bemused by the new experience and then just like Leo took the spoon straight out of my hand. Unlike Leo though he got it pretty much straight to his mouth (I'm sure Leo didn't manage that for a long time).

Leo was very interested in what was going on and wanted to feed him too, he was surprisingly good at it!

We've also tried the Banana cereal, Mixed Vegetables and Carrot and Potato and My First Apple, all where slightly more popular than the baby rice was - which is not surprising, it can't be particularly yummy whatever way you look at it!   I'm glad to have had the opportunity to try these products as spoon feeding a baby was a first for me, and I didn't realise that HiPP Organic in Cyprus has such a wide range so it's good to know that a 'recognisable brand' is available in several varieties.

If I was to purely feed Louka with purees, although I'd probably make most myself, I would certainly be using HiPP Organic food when out and about, not just for convenience (although if I'm honest that's the main reason I do anything!)  but because you can be sure it is very good quality food.

I was sent the above products for review but the views and opinions are all my own.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Snow in Cyprus

Since we have been in Cyprus we have talked about going to the mountains but it's one of those things we've never got round to. Although I'd love to go in summer to explore, and get a reprieve from the heat for a day or two, we thought it would be fun to take Leo in winter to experience snow.

I was surprised when I first found out that it actually snows in Cyprus, and even more amazed to realise that there is even a ski resort. The season is short as it only tends to snow between December and March, with February being the best month to ski. 

It's quite a drive (just over 2 hours) from where we live, especially once you've got 'small island syndrome' as we have after being here over 3 years. You get so used to driving such short journeys that anything over 30 minutes seems like a huge expedition, I'm sure Leo thought we were driving to the end of the earth!

I was a little worried that we wouldn't be able to find much snow - I guess I just couldn't imagine there being any when it was over 20 degrees on our balcony, and Leo was really looking forward to it.  He was excited about wearing his big coat (He's only ever had a fleece jacket before) and his hat, scarf and gloves, he also insisted we needed a carrot for our snowman's nose.

There was no need to worry though, although we did seem to get almost to the top of the mountains! 

When we arrived it had just started to rain / sleet, I opened the car door and couldn't believe how cold it was, I've not been in temperatures like that for a long time!  It soon stopped though and the clouds cleared and our lovely blue sky we are used to appeared. 

Leo was a little unsure at first, holding tightly onto my hand as we walked the slushy road from the car to the wooded area we had stopped at, but once Aaron and I started making snowballs and running around making footprints he soon got into the spirit of things.   At one point he  threw a snowball at me which happened to catch me in the ear as I'd bent down, it made me jump, lose my balance and fall over into the snowman and I then ended up rolling down the hill much to Aaron and Leo's amusement!

After making the snowman we continued our walk and stopped for a picnic!  After an hour or so Leo was getting a bit cold / tired so we started to head back to the car, taking a short cut down a really steep hill!. He was still enjoying it, laughing, running and throwing snowballs but the last few steps I think he suddenly hit his 'cold limit', by the time we opened the car he said he was very very cold.   Once in the car I changed all his clothes and listened to his thoughts on snow..

He said he didn't like the snow, and when asked said he hadn't enjoyed it (He tends to forget that he was having the time of his life only 10 minutes before)  Then he said 'Thank you Mummy, Daddy for bringing me to touch the snow, but I don't like to come back on another day'    He agreed that he had had fun and it was interesting to have seen what it was like but decided that the beach is much nicer - 'Next time Mummy I want to go to the beach every time - I will make castles,instead of men' 

I was amused and pleased by his reaction as I was kind of expecting him not to want to leave, or to want to go again. I guess if he had not got too cold at the end that might have been the case.  The following day he was telling my Dad about it, and said 'it was fun, but too cold, I thought it would have been warm!'

Looks like it's a good job we live in Cyprus!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

L is for Leo and Louka

I've not joined in with many Gallery prompts this year so far except last weeks which was 'Girls' when I wrote about my best girlies who I'll be off to see later today for the first time in years (did I mention I'm quite excited!) Obviously the logical prompt to follow that was going to be Boys and I couldn't miss that one, especially as I'll be leaving them behind while I make my flying visit to the UK!

If you'd have asked me many years ago what my preference would be I'd have no doubt said I'd like  girl, especially if I had already had a boy, but I really couldn't imagine it any other way now. I love my boys to bits and couldn't imagine a girly world of pink and fluffy anymore. I never expected I'd know all the engines from Thomas or be so familiar with Bob and Mike the Knight and I hate to admit it but Aaron may have a point - boys stuff is cooler than girls!

It's going to be very strange spending five days away from them and I do feel sorry for Leo, worrying slightly that he will miss me - I also feel sorry for Aaron dealing with them on his own, even though that's what I'll be doing all summer!   It's not long though and before I know it I'll be craving an hours peace again!

Monday, 18 February 2013

Beautiful bumps and bellies!

When I was pregnant with Leo I was quite concerned about getting stretch marks, I'd lost weight beforehand and had finally managed to achieve a fairly flat stomach and was wondered what it would look like after my little man's arrival.

Although everyone says nothing can get rid of stretch marks completely I knew that there were things you could do to try and prevent them, and many people had recommended Bio Oil to me - the No1 selling scar and stretch mark product.

I used Bio Oil, everyday throughout most of my pregnancy and actually ended up with just a couple of stretch marks appearing in the last week or so. (See, THIS is why I don't 'do late')  I abandoned the oil after Leo was born when I had finished the bottle as I never got round to buying a new one thinking the oil was mainly for preventing the marks.

I rarely applied anything to my skin during my second pregnancy and I can see now that it certainly makes a difference, having been left with a few more this time. So I was very pleased to be offered a new sample of Bio Oil to try out 'post pregnancy; this time.

Bio-Oil has been clinically proven to help with:

ü  Scars:  Improves appearance of new and old scars whether from surgery, accidents, burns, insect bites, scratches and chickenpox
ü  Stretch Marks:  Helps prevent formation of stretch marks during pregnancy and periods of rapid weight gain or loss and helps to improve the appearance of existing stretch marks
ü  Uneven Skin Tone: Helps improve appearance of uneven skin tone caused by hormonal fluctuations, skin lighteners or excessive sun exposure
ü  Ageing Skin: Helps smooth and tone ageing, sagging and wrinkled skin on both the face and body
ü  Dehydrated Skin: Helps replenish the skin’s natural oils, stripped away by factors such as extreme weather, water with high chemical content, frequent bathing and the drying effects of central heating and air-con.  Try massaging into dry patches such as nail cuticles, dry elbows and heels for targeted relief.

After using it now for a week....I can feel a difference, obviously I didn't expect the stretchmarks to disappear but my skin certainly feels smoother and I would imagine that over time this would be one of the best ways to help get rid of them - well that and getting a bit of a tan but Bio Oil would be much better for you!

I was sent a sample of Bio Oil to review, but the opinions (and stretchmarks!) are all my own

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Here come the girls...

In just three days time I'm leaving the boys behind for a whole five days and heading back to England all on my own to see my best girlies!

It's been almost three years since I've been back and I'm so looking forward to it. It's going to be a busy few days as in that time I'm staying in three different places as I try to get to see all four of them but it should be lots of fun.

Nic (top left) is my oldest friend as we went to playschool together 33 years ago!   Nic Nic, (how she will also be known to us, despite announcing many years ago she was now 'Niki', she can never be a 'Niki' to me!) used to live round the corner from me, she was one of the first to move away so from our twenties we didn't see as much of each other, maybe just two or three times a year - never made the slightest bit of difference though when we did meet up, it's always like we saw each other yesterday.

I met Claire (top right) at secondary school but it wasn't really until we left school and Claire left our home town that the fun started!  I have spent many many night staying down at Claires' house, sometimes going out on the town, but often sitting at her kitchen table for hours and hours drinking wine, eating her amazing dinners and smoking far too much!

Sarah (bottom left) is my drinking buddy.  We met at secondary school too but it was at college that we really became friends, well I say college but I guess the pub would be more accurate.  We've been to Kavos, Gran Canaria, and Antigua (where I was her bridesmaid) together and I'd hate to think how many bottles of mailbu we've got through together over the years!

Larisa is my 'newest' friend out of the fab four, although I met her 16 years ago which sounds unbelievable   Larisa is my tea drinking, planning, shopping and bargain hunting partner and we can talk for hours on end, the opening question usually being 'So, what's the gossip?  I've had very few nights out with Larisa (although she works in the pub we used to drink in so in some ways I've maybe had more with her than the others!)  but that's not what we do best together - we have our typical day coming up this week - shop, stop for tea, shop some more and top it all off with a Chinese dinner!

It's going to be strange being without the boys but I cannot wait to chat, drink, shop and sleep (oh, what a sign of the times that 'sleep' makes the list!).  It's also going to be very odd to be in England as I've been away so long - I actually asked someone the other day if any of the shops would be open on the Sunday!!!

Linking up to The Gallery and Flashback Friday

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday

Saturday, 16 February 2013

365 Project Week 7

Totally engrossed, playing at his new table.

I got my 1/2 stone award this week, all that exercise must have worked!

You can never have too many sky photos!

Big brother will show you how to do it!

First time in his highchair, and it didn't take long for him to discover this game!

After ages of trying to show Leo how to hold a pencil properly, I picked him up from school and  he announced that 'My teacher has shown me and now 'I am clever' 

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Friday, 15 February 2013

Winter Weekend Beach Trip

I love the beaches here in Cyprus out of season, they are just perfect for small people to have fun on...

Winter sunshine in Cyprus

I can never quite decide on what the weather is like as it's usually so cold indoors compared to outside in the sun so we were dressed in jumpers (I was wearing two!)  Leo quickly stripped off though and at one point I was even wishing I'd worn a bikini top underneath as it was so warm on the beach and my big polo neck jumper was sweltering!

Winter sun Cyprus beaches

Leo had a great time, running around like a loony, making patterns and writing in the sand and together we even created a 'sand man', complete with seaweed hair!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Learning to read together

Ever since Leo started using the Reading Eggs website (an online world where children learn to read) back in September of last year it has remained one of his favourite activities, he even abandoned the Thomas and Friends website for it, and last week he has completed lesson 120!

Reading eggs taught 3 year old to read
Too busy looking at his certificate to look at the camera!
We usually did the lessons together as he found it a lot more fun that way, I doubt he would have finished them in that time on his own especially as they got harder towards the end, but he has amazed me with how well he has done considering he is only 3 still!

I would now say that thanks to Reading Eggs, Leo can actually read - for a while I thought he was maybe just remembering the words of stories we have read many times but he's reading things everywhere, on signs, packets, from the television and is quite happy to try and work out what a word says by sounding it out if he doesn't recognise it.

The main appeal of the program for Leo was the 'eggs' that open after each lesson, each one containing a funny little character. He loved to go back over all the previous lessons and look at all the ones he had 'won'.

Towards the end I told him that I was very proud of him that he was so good at his reading and made a offhand remark that soon he would be writing too,  he asked me 'you mean like writing letters?'  I said that when you know how to write letters, you can then write words and when you can write words you can make sentences from them and if you put all the sentences together you could write a book - he looked amazed and said 'Wow, like my books. I could write a story?  That would be clever!'

At first he was a little disappointed when he realised there were no more maps, until he discovered all the other things you can do with the program, read (and write) stories, play games, puzzles there are tons of things to keep him busy!  I printed the certificate off for him and he proudly stuck it on his bedroom door and shows everyone who comes in!

He can't quite do it all on his own now as the program has now put him at a reading age of a 7 year old due to him finishing the lessons but he got there with assistance. Although I never answered the questions for him I sometimes re-read the instructions or sounded out the words slowly to help him work it out. He still loves it though and I'm happy to do it with him as he is still learning all the time.

I absolutely love Reading Eggs and as I said before would recommend it to anyone, especially anyone whose child does not go to an English speaking school!

For a free trial of Reading Eggs visit  - trust me its worth its weight in gold!

I was provided with a subscription to Reading Eggs for the purpose of the review I posted back in September but love it so much I decided to write this follow up post.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Slimming World 'Syn Free' Pancakes

I've made loads of Slimming World recipes over the years but with the exception of Weetabix Cake I've not found many 'sweet' recipes that really work for me.  They always seem to be missing something (that'll be the sugar and fat I guess!) and I generally find them not worth the effort or syns.

Until today that is when I discovered 'Magic Pancakes' a recipe from my old SW consultant in the UK. They are so easy to make and are 'syn free' if you count them as a 'healthy B option.

Slimming World syn free pancakes

All you need is...
35g poridge oats (Healthy extra B choice or 6 syns)
A Muller light yoghurt ( I used a Vitaline yoghurt as Muller lights are hard to find in Cyprus, hence the slightly pink colour as it was cherry flavour!)
3 eggs
Sweetener to taste.

Mix the porridge oats and yoghurt, and leave in fridge overnight.
Add the eggs and sweetener and you have your pancake mix!

I served mine with loads of strawberries and some low fat Greek yoghurt and they were absolutely delicious!

Today was weigh in day for me and after being really annoyed at my 1lb gain last week despite 'shredding' every day I was very pleased that I'd kept at it as it the loss was just a bit delayed and showed on the scales this week with a 4.5lb loss.

It also meant I got my 1/2 stone award today!

Sunday, 10 February 2013

30 Day Shred Update

Just over two weeks ago I started the 30 Day Shred, I was a little nervous as I'd heard lots about it and it sounded very hard, but I was also excited as I'd also heard of the results people had achieved doing it.  The first day was hard, harder than any workout DVD I've done before and I regularly used to do the Ministry Of Sound workouts, although I always took the easy option on them and probably never pushed myself as hard as I could have done. 

I made the decision when I started the Shred to push as hard as I could after seeing a quote online related to it 'Unless you puke, faint or die, Keep Going'

30 Day shred level oneAnd I did, I could hardly breathe during Day 1, Day 2 was the same with the added muscle aches gained on Day 1 but by Day 5 it was a lot easier, note I said 'easier' not easy! ! I had been worried as I always have been whilst exercising about my knees which I've had problems with or years but as the days progressed they actually felt better than they had since Louka was born. Along with knee problems I'm also prone to problems with my back and it was only November that I could hardly walk with the pain so I am always mindful of that too. 

I completed Level One and moved onto Level Two, this was a big jump up, full of 'plank' related moves and I really felt it the next day. 

I was finding this much harder and today, having just completed Day 16 (over half way!) have decided to change tactics.  With my knees now feeling worse each day, I'm concerned that pain will move to my back as I try and compensate for it.  I will continue to exercise as I'm still a woman on a mission but I'm going to switch workouts.  

I was never going to complete the shred in 30 days due to my upcoming trip to the UK on day 26 and I don't fancy ruining my first proper shopping trip in 3 years by not being able to walk!

Having retaken my measurements I discovered I have lost a combined total of nearly 3 inches off my hips, stomach and thighs so it does work and I do intend to come back to it at a later date. 

I may give myself a day off tomorrow (body doesn't know what's hit it after 16 days straight of workouts!) but after that I'll be going back to the DVD I first started with, 'Davina McCall's 30 minute workouts'  which did wonders for me last time and gives a bit more variety in the styles of workout. 

I may be bowing out of the shred for now but I promise I'm not giving up!

Silent Sunday

Nicsia Cyprus

Silent Sunday

Saturday, 9 February 2013

365 Project - Week 6

Wow, week 6 already, doesn't time fly!

After our night out on Saturday for the Daxi Business awards, Sunday was always going to be a quiet day!  Leo was pleased to get slightly more laptop time than usual as Mummy was very tired (and maybe a little fuzzy headed!) It was all educational though as he completed the last lesson on Reading Eggs and was over the moon when I gave him a certificate to show he had done them all.

Monday saw me complete the first level of the 30 Day Shred  which I was pleased to say had felt like it got much easier over the 10 days, Level 2 was then quite a shock to the system on Tuesday!

The Shred was not the only exercise I got on Tuesday as I finally got round to going to Nicosia (the capital of Cyprus)   I took lots of photos but the most unusual was of a line of coloured umbrellas strung across one of the old streets, we only came across it by accident as we wandered around trying to find Ledra Street so it was a nice surprise.

The highlight of Leo's day on Friday was going to his favourite supermarket with me, he loves it because of the 'lift with the window' and if he had his own way would have us going up and down in it for hours!

Today we spent a lovely morning at the beach, followed by a McDonalds (or 'Old McDonalds as Leo calls it)  and then an afternoon making and playing with Sand Dough.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Friday, 8 February 2013

Daxi Business Awards 2012

Last weekend was the 2nd Annual Daxi Business awards night and my parents kindly babysat for us so we could attend for the second year running. Daxi is a popular free magazine distributed all over Famagusta and Larnca and the business awards were set up to reward local business and bring the community together.

Both years Daxi editor Natalie has done a fantastic job with arranging the evening, with a lovely buffet and entertainment laid on as well as the award ceremony itself. It's so nice to be able to get all dressed up which is a rare event at the best of times but especially since having babies and living in Cyprus!

Our best friends were nominated for 'Best Newcomer' for their business 'Blood Brothers Professional Tattoo and Piercing Studio'  and we were absolutely delighted that they won!!!

Daxi awards,Blood brothers Tattoo Agia Napa

Sam had the great idea for the whole table to dress in the company colours of black and red. 

It was a very enjoyable evening and nice to have a night out with good friends as I knew several of the other nominees as well, it was also nice to have a a few drinks this year as last year I was pregnant.  Roll on next year... Sam and I might actually be able to have a drink together then!

Flashback Friday - Baby Led Weaning

When I was pregnant with Leo I read a book ( I did a lot of that, always trying to find the elusive 'Baby instruction manual) about Baby-Led Weaning. Not that I'd given it much thought but I'd always assumed I'd be pureeing carrots and stuff when it came to it but the more I read the more that baby led weaning (BLW) seemed the most logical thing to do.

If you've no idea what I'm talking about the basically BLW is letting your baby feed itself, right from the very start of weaning, no mush! Not to be started before 6 months, which is when they are capable of feeding themselves (and the advised time to start any kind of weaning although I later found out that everyone seems to ignore that) but after that time you just feed your baby as part of the family, giving them a bit of what everyone else is having (within reason, no added salt, etc)

I waited quite happily until Leo reached 6 months, in fact he was six months on the dot as we moved to Cyprus 3 days before and we spent a couple of days getting organised before embarking on this new phase of his life!

Weaning, baby rice
Not impressed with mush!
I used to drive Aaron mad debating over what I 'should' and 'shouldn't' be doing and referred back to the book so many times! I sometimes had doubt that I was doing the right thing, and often felt like I should be puree feeding, on a couple of occasions I went against my instinct and made some purees, each time he was not interested at all so I went back to the original plan!

I knew there was a great website and had I have had internet access I would have been on the forum getting all the answers I need from other Mums but we were on our own.   I'm glad though in many ways that we were on our own, quite literally in fact as we had no opinionated
health visitors to tell us not to do it (as many BLW'ers find) or friends or family disapproving. These were the early Cyprus days when we hardly knew anyone, just the three of us in new place with no real idea what we were doing!

Baby led weaning

I had a few worries at the start, Was he going to choke? (No, he gagged a few times but never choked) Was he getting enough food?  (The BLW mantra is 'Food is fun until one' as they get all the nutrients from milk). and most of the people I'd read about who were doing it were also breast feeding so I was worried about him getting enough nourishment from formula, but then I worried about everything - there is disadvantages of not having health visitors and experienced family and friends about too!

baby led weaning, spaghetti

The thing I found most tricky was eating as a family as Aaron was home too late, so I usually ate lunch with Leo but fed him dinner on his own, usually leftovers from whatever we had the night before. But I was always (and still am!) racking my brains for what to feed him.

Looking back I am pleased that I did what I did, he has always been a good eater, although especially now can be very fussy, demand ketchup with everything and suddenly announce he doesn't like something he's loved for ages but from what I can gather this is no different to any other 3 year old however they learnt to eat!

The only downside was the mess, and boy was there mess, but I've got marble floors so it wasn't the end of the world, and I worked out not to give him weetabix if I was in a hurry to go anywhere!

baby led weaning
Weetabix - do you know how hard that stuff sets!
Louka is now just over five months old, and when he reaches 6 months I will do the same with him (maybe with less weetabix!)  However this time round I will probably be giving him a few tastes of puree or baby rice before hand as he seems a little more interested than Leo did in food and I'm not so worried about sticking so rigidly to the '6 month guideline'


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