Wednesday, 31 December 2014

2014 - it's been nice knowing you!

2014 has been an interesting year, full of change for us and new beginnings.

January was a quiet month for us, same old stuff and no real hint of the things to come. Looking back to remind myself of anything interesting I may have forgotten I see that I only took a handful of photos and wrote very few blog posts, something that continued all year unfortunatly.

Creating with Daddy.

February saw the launch of my website - the Famagusta Parents Network and I threw myself into launching the site and all that goes with it. It's been a lot of work but I've enjoyed it so much (and still am!) and I've been really pleased with the support and contributions I've received from the community.



March was carnival time and we got to join our friends on the Performers Academy float in the parade which was great. Blogging was sparse again as I was spending all my free time working on the FPN site and planning the first Family Fun Day which was brilliant fun but somewhat time consuming! Although it was the month I wrote my favourite blog post of the year - 'Time changes everything - eventually'.



April's highlight was definitely the FPN Fun Day, which was a great success and I can't wait to do it all again in 2015.  It was attended by hundreds of people and raised €550 for a local charity in the process. It was also the month that Klik Photography was launched, then known as 'Aaron's Klik Photography' and the start of what was to become the family business by the end of the year.


Of course the highlight of May is always Leo's Birthday, and this year was no exception as everything was awesome. We celebrated his 5th birthday with a Lego party which I think I had as much fun arranging as he did on the day!



It's hard to pick just one highlight of a whole year but for me it happened in June with the surprise arrival of one of my best friends for her first foreign holiday. We had such a fantastic week and it was like being on holiday myself - beach, pub, beach, and pub some more and I even sunbathed!


July is the first full month of the summer holidays after the end of term in June and the temperature had well and truly risen. It was a month of daily pool trips either to our own shared pool or meeting up with friends at the hotel pools.  The boys really did well with their swimming this year, Louka swimming around happily with armbands and Leo, who stopped using them last year started diving and swimming underwater with ease.


August was Loukas 2nd birthday and we had our first pool party as it was just too hot to spend the whole party on the balcony.  We also celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary and Aaron wrote me a lovely poem as a throwback to his wedding speech.


September was a nice, fairly non eventful month for us. In Cyprus, the temperature drops slightly after the huge peak of August (well, at least towards the end of the month!)  and although the schools return as they finish at 1pm there is still plenty of time for pool and beach trips or long weekend evenings out and about.  We had various trips out most in the name of 'research' for my website!


In October I celebrated my birthday with a lovely afternoon at a favourite restaurant of mine with lots of friends and our assorted children. We also got in a few more beach trips which are much easier now Loukas is getting a bit older,  and treated the boys to afternoons in the Luna park and at the mini-golf.  We ended the month with several Halloween parties and various costumes for each one! I also was excited to learn that I have been nominated for an award at the Daxi Business Awards to be held in January! 


November saw the start of Leo wearing glasses and unfortunately having to wear an eye patch for several hours each day. He is happy with his glasses but getting him to wear the patch is a daily struggle, we have been told however that it is working and his bad eye is improving from wearing it so hopefully we won't have to do it for too long. 


December of course means all things Christmassy, and we did all we could.  School fete, Christmas Avenue, Paralimni's 'Christmas Wonder', Christmas crafts, school play and more.  We had our first ever Christmas dinner out this year at our 'local' and it was a lovely addition to our usual Christmas day.   We also took delivery of the new Klik Party Booth - the ultimate party gadget and the new addition to what was originally just Aaron and a camera.  We have attended our first two events, with another on New Years Eve and are looking forward to many more in 2015. 


Me and Mine - A family portrait project

Over the last year I have seen some of my favourite blogs taking part in the 'Me and Mine' family portrait project, it's something I've enjoyed seeing and but not got round to taking part it.  It's rare that we get a photo of the four of us, as one of us is always behind the camera but I treasure the few photos we have together.

With the start of our business Klik Photography it feels even more important to get the family shots, we had plans for a festive family photo shoot using Aaron's new mobile portratit studio but Christmas and work unfortunately distracted us.

All is not lost though as we have been busy setting up our new addition to the company for 2015, Klik Photography now has the PARTY BOOTH, a digital portable photobooth for events, wedding and parties. The boys have wanted to be involved in all the excitement of unpacking the boxes and building the booth on our practice runs, and of course who could stop them from diving into all the props we are starting to acquire.

After taking on their important roles of Chief Prop Testers we all piled into the booth for a test shot after they informed us exactly what we would be wearing of course!


I am looking forward to taking part in 'Me and Mine' in 2015 although maybe not all in silly hats!


dear beautiful

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Chasing my tail and trying to make a plan.

Where is the time going to?

How have I only managed to write 63 blog posts this year!   I know I've had the Famagusta Parents Network as well for the first time this year but still it's a huge departure from the 256 and 287 posts of 2011 and 2012!

I miss my blog but the less I write, the harder it seems to get into it. I have so many posts in my head but they are vague and I am struggling to get them out there, being far to easily distracted by facebook, youtube and even the time sucking wast of time that is Buzzfeed.com!

I've always dipped in and out of twitter and gone through phases of loving it and ignoring it for weeks on end but with the temperamental piece of junk that is my phone I've even lost my love of instagram, both of which keep my blogging habit up without too much effort.

There's so much I want to write about, the opening of my friends new venture - 'Tiny Acorns Creativity Centre', the Christmas events we've been too,  Leo's new glasses and the saga of having to wear an eye patch for a session each day, our nights out, the trips to the park and puddle jumping,  not to mention the launch of our new business...  'Klik Photography  and our new photobooth - the Party Booth.

Cyprus Photo Booth
The new Party Booth by Klik Photography

Just before Christmas we  launched the booth after it's arrival 3 days before our first event, and now it's all hands to the laptops to get the website finished as soon as possible plus we have another two events this year.

I will not abandon my baby, my original blog despite all the new things that have developed since it's birth but I will need to focus a little more on a plan,  and stop wasting time doing nothing online!  I miss my blogging friends and the interaction that comes with a busy blog and I know I will miss the record of our lives that this blog creates.

I have a list (of course, you can't make a plan without a list) and I will play catch up, ignoring the fact that the time has passed - my blog, my rules!

Now I have a nice new shiny phone  thanks to Aaron (who made me believe he hadn't got me a Christmas present until the last minute!) so hopefully that will help, if I don't get distracted by silly games and pinterest of course!




Monday, 22 December 2014

Home for Christmas

Recently I was asked the question 'Are you home for Christmas?'  I replied that yes I was although for the first time we were going out for Christmas dinner.  The reply threw me,

'When do you leave?'

Um, well I think they are serving dinner at 2pm?
Ah.... they were asking me if I was going to England for Christmas,  I'd completely missed the point of the question!

I don't have anything against going back to England for a visit, in fact I'd love to be able to go (not now, far too cold!) to meet up with friends and replenish our wardrobes but I wouldn't fancy going back for Christmas.

I know that having my parents here means that I don't have the pull and the same reason for wanting to be there over the festive season which is the obvious reason for many to return. I've heard many people here say that Christmas in Cyprus just isn't the same and it doesn't feel 'Christmassy' but I disagree.

Maybe it's the fact I have children which gives me the reason / excuse to attend all the Christmas events but I'm guessing the same would apply in England too.

Maybe it's the lack of 'Christmas food' in the shops and the endless boxes of pre-packed party food and 'Christmas treats' -  but it's easier not to blow half your years shopping budget on one month here when you have to make most of it yourself.

Maybe it's the temperature but after being here for 5 years it feels more than chilly enough for me now.

Maybe it's the sunshine but trees and tinsel look prettier in the sunlight than through rain (and we've had several grey rainy days lately - it's  novelty but I don't get the excitement they create here)

Maybe it's the lack of festive programs on the TV but I don't know many people without internet streaming, web TV or an equivalent now.

Maybe it's the calmer approach to Christmas and the lack of aggressive advertising from October onward,  but surely that's only a good thing!

Maybe its the lack of things they need to be doing and people they need to visit, but many people hate the chaotic business of all of that.

Maybe it's just that they miss their friends and family and their own traditions - that one does make sense to me, but for me we have new traditions and they are all based here.




Five years ago, it didn't feel like Christmas here for me but we were fresh off the plane, having left shops full of Christmas goods, songs and decorations starting to appear through the streets and houses (even though it was NOVEMBER!)   The sun confused me, and our 6 month old Leo had no idea what was 'supposed' to be happening anyway.  I missed Christmas meet ups and events that had been arranged while I was still being invited to them with people not knowing that I'd have left the country.

There didn't seem to be much to do either with the exception of the school fair on the British Army base of Ayios Nikolaos, and the switching on of the Agia Napa Christmas lights,  but I don't know if that was because there were not many events or because I didn't know where to look to find out about them.

The events are increasing each year it seems and this year there has been a huge choice which was great to see.  (I was also able to list them all in one handy place on the Famagusta Parents Network which I hope helped some people find out about them.)  There has been Christmas markets, Craft sessions, pantomimes, shows and carol services in Greek or English,  each town has had an event to mark the switching on of the Christmas lights, and most have had extra attractions like trips on the red buses or pony rides and visits from Santa.

I love Christmas, especially the lead up to it but I like to do it my way. I like that it's quite low key here in Cyprus compared to England and for me I like that we do what we want to do, there's no competing for the best decorations, the most 'party food' you can buy, the stresses of buying presents for a long list of people and the visits all over the country that many people have to make.

Not long to go now...... we're getting excited!

What about you?  Do you prefer to spend Christmas at home or away?   With lots of people or do you prefer it quieter?

And especially for you expats,  does Christmas feel like Christmas in your new country?

Sunday, 21 December 2014

'Life's a climb, but the view is great'

Photo by 'Klik Photo CY'
Konnos Bay, Cape Greko, Cyprus..... one of my favourite beaches.

This photo was taken from the top of Konnos Bay before you negotiate the often busy, twisty turning road leading to the beautiful beach.

I'd never have thought back in 2007 when this photo was taken (by Aaron I now realise after accidentally taking the credit for it for all these years!) that it would be so well used!

When I started this blog I used a standard template having no idea what else I could do, and figuring it didn't matter as no-one would notice I was writing one anyway.  After sometime I figured out how to add header, and even created a posh little badge.

The  blog was originally going to be called 'Why the hell not?'  but I think the quote suits me and it quite well....



#CheckOutThatView

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The first sign of Christmas


We are about to spend our 5th Christmas in Cyprus, and I love it!    Many people go back to the UK for Christmas or would like to, and while I do admit it is different here I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.  (Of course, it is different having my parents here, I'm sure if I had a big family in England I'd be hopping on a plane if I could!)

I can't really remember the first sign of Christmas in the UK,  only that it was probably too early. I LOVE Christmas, but I love it in December (or maybe towards the end of November, but ssshhh don't tell anyone).  Having worked in retail for many years in the UK it does dilute the excitement a little.

Aaron and I have slightly different views on Christmas - he is adamant that Christmas is a DAY, whereas I argue that Christmas is a 'season'  -  well it says so in the song!   I actually prefer the build up to Christmas now more so than the day itself - decorating, going to Christmas events, seeing Santa, writing letters, and general excitement.

I was excited to see my first Christmas tree of this year in a shop last week and that was when it occurred to me how much later it all happens here in Cyprus.  You start to hear of the Christmas events (mainly the 'expat' ones)  fairly early, and the pubs and restaurants start advertising their Christmas lunches but you don't get the onslaught of advertising and it rammed it your face everywhere you go.

Yesterday we managed to find 2 advent calenders, which is surprisingly difficult (unless you want to spend €7 on a huge one from Lidl's) This year I think will be the first year that Leo would remember about the chocolate calendar from the year before, so that's' good!

I swore to myself that I'd not start 'Christmas' before December - no music, no nothing until the 1st when I get our 'Advent box' out with the Christmas DVDs, books and CD.  Aaron of course thinks that is far too early, and still argues that the decorations should go up on Christmas Eve!

Every year we have been here we have been to the switching on of the Agia Napa lights, last year as we walked into the square I turned to my Dad and said 'Ohh now it's Christmas'  THAT was the moment it felt like the festive season had begun. This year the lights switch on is the 29th but this weekend is Leo's school's Christmas fete, 2 weeks earlier than last year and so I'm sure that's when it will all begin!   He is so excited about it, and the fact that Santa will be there, and he can also have a ride on the Red Bus.

Of course rules are meant to be broken though, so as I write this post I am listening to some fab festive tunes!  I might have sworn not to get the CD out but I said nothing about youtube!


Friday, 21 November 2014

Let's move to Cyprus - {Part One}

This month we will have lived in Cyprus 5 years, it's not that long in the scheme of things but it feels like a lifetime ago now that I was living in England and would have once dismissed the whole idea of moving here as just a ridiculous dream.

I've been blogging only slightly longer than the time I've lived here, having started the blog with the idea of recording the move. Back in the early days I posted short posts and I've often regretted not elaborating on how it all came about.  I'd only written 2 posts before we actually left the UK and then was left without internet for 3 months while CYTA attempted to locate our apartment on the map.

I'd never been to Cyprus before we thought about moving here, and I suppose that makes it a slightly strange thing to do. I touched on how it all came about in my very first blog post but I didn't consider myself a 'blogger' then and I don't feel like I really captured the story, so I thought I'd play catch up now...


There really was no build up to the decision at all, for me it literally all stemmed from a random question.

It was an ordinary evening back in 2007, Aaron and I were eating dinner, (on trays, on our laps, in front of the TV watching Top Gear to be precise) and with no prior related conversation turned to me and asked ' Do you want to move to Cyprus?'

I can remember it like it was yesterday, how I paused, lost for words, how I turned to him slowly, and the look I gave him as I replied ' Do I want to do what??'

'Move to Cyprus'  he replied, in the tone you might use to ask someone if they want to go to the pub, or have a cup of tea.

Me:  'Do.I.Want.To.Move.To.Cyprus?'
Him: 'Yes'
Me: *blank look* 'Cyprus?'
Him: 'Yes, do you want to move to Cyprus?'
Me; 'I've never even been to Cyprus!'
Him: 'Me neither'
Me:'Why would I want to move to Cyprus?'
Him: 'Why not?'

It turns out that I didn't have a good enough answer to that, because 5 years later, here we are!

I think my actual reply was all the following and something along the lines of 'because we can't / because we've never even been there / because people don't just move abroad like that'.

Aaron changed tack, the question became 'Why don't you want to move to Cyprus?'

This was much easier to answer, because I didn't want to leave my parents and my friends. That was the main reason, I threw a few extras in for good measure - we might regret it, it might be too hot, we might get ill, we might not be able to come home and I'm sure many other random things which popped into my head.

It turned out that Aaron had been speaking to my Dad who had thought about moving for many years but my Mum always said she didn't want to leave me.  As Aaron had once thought about moving to France (before we were married, and not with me) the idea of leaving the country was not new to him and he suggested that we all moved then neither me or Mum would be leaving the other!

I still thought he was crazy and I was adamant that it wasn't possible to just move, just like that for no apparent reason.  Surely everyone would be doing it if it was that easy?

After some discussion we established that 'Of course I wanted to move to Cyprus' (assuming I didn't hate it when I first went there!) I just couldn't see how it would be possible, not only from the logistics of it, but because we didn't even have the money to go on holiday to see what it was like!


Image credit

Part two coming soon.....


Thursday, 20 November 2014

The one where I don't know what to wear.

As exciting as the first rain after the summer is, I'm still not a huge fan despite the long hot summers I've experienced over the last few years.  Many of my friends here love the winter and relish the novelty of snuggling up with pyjamas and watching tv,  but I'd still rather take the long summer balcony evenings given the choice!

I do love my duvet though, and I do get very excited over sausage and mash for dinner - Aaron refuses to eat anything like that over the summer so winter does have some plus points!

Unlike living in the UK, there is a distinct difference between summer and winter - never in England did I pack my winter wardrobe away completely for the summer months and change my whole lifestyle as the nights drew in.

I find over the summer I get lazy with what I wear - it seems so much easier then!  Get up, pick some shorts and a top, or a dress, flip flops - sorted!

In winter, leggings, jeans, skirt or what?   Does it still fit?   Which shoes go with them?  Is it too warm for boots, will I be cold in flipflops? Why do I not have anything inbetween the two?!   Which top? Do I need a cardigan, or a coat, do I even own one?!

The  problem (admittedly a very 'first world' problem) is working out what to wear - this time of year creates a very diverse collection of clothing as you go about the place with people wearing anything from shorts and vests to jeans, jumpers, coats and woolly hats  (yes really!  I saw two children at school this morning wearing them).

What starts off as a chilly morning suggesting long trousers and a jumper can turn into a lovely 'summer' morning by 10am where the temperature heads back to the mid to high 20's.  Yet by late afternoon you get another sudden drop as the sun goes down meaning the layers are piled back on again and my good old fluffy dressing gown makes an appearance.

Another reason I'm not the biggest fan of winter is the fact that our living space almost halves when we close our balcony doors which would have been open pretty much constantly since May. It's more noticeable than ever this year with two growing kids trying to run around in a very small space. Maybe winter will grow on me when I get more than 3 rooms and a sofa that is comfortable for the cosy winter evening - I think I'll put a fireplace on the wish list as well!

It's funny though to look back - yesterday I noticed on 'timehop'  (a brilliant app which shows you photos and statuses from 'this day' in previous years) that this time last year I announced that winter had arrived. what timehop also told me was the time of the update and the fact it was 23 degrees.

However,  4 years ago on the same day I had spent a 'lovely afternoon on the beach with Leo and been in the sea - it was 26 degrees then!

It still never fails to fascinate me, the temperatures at which I now feel cold but it's certainly what you become acclimatized to, plus the fact that indoors it is usually so much colder than outside.


One thing about the season though - you do get the most amazing lighting shows, we spend many a time watching the spectacular storms from our balcony and this week was one of the best in a long time.

Photo by  Klik Photography



Tuesday, 18 November 2014

A heart of gold!

People have asked me why I blog and it's a question I still struggle to answer, I like to create a record of things we've been up to, but of course I could have started a scrapbook or even just not hit publish and shared it with everyone.

Maybe it  because I like to think that maybe I can make a difference, that is the reason I have run the 'Discovering Cyprus', 'Birth in Cyprus and 'All Greek to me' sections on this blog, and why I love running the Famagusta Parents Network - I hope it can do some good for the area and help people along the way.

I spend a huge amount of time online, between the two blogs, and the other places I write for,  as well as the other things I seem to get myself into to - being on the social team at Slimming World, setting up facebook pages, arranging coffee mornings and fun days, and nearly all of it is of no financial benefit to me  - considering we need to eat and stuff it's sometimes a wonder why I do it all.    But I do, and I love it - going to the pub is not as easy as it used to be,  television is rubbish - Arabic, Greek or buffering too much to be able to watch it  so this is what I do, and I just love it!

What really makes it worthwhile though is knowing that it is appreciated, and knowing that I've helped someone - maybe told them about a good day out, or how to find some information they need. Knowing that I am actually making a difference.

So, you can maybe imagine how excited I was to discover that I have been nominated for the 'Heart of Gold' award at the next Daxi Business Awards!!!

It's a well known fact that only bloggers comment on blogs, so the FPN website has almost none, facebook has stats, but we all know they don't mean much so generally we carry on doing what we do regardless without really knowing if anyone is interested. It's so lovely to be recognised that I am actually doing a 'thing'


The Heart of Gold award is unrelated to business. It is awarded to an individual person rather than a company of group. Someone who gives selflessly to others for no personal gain, someone who dedicates their time, resources and physical efforts to help others regardless of their own personal circumstances.  


I was really looking forward to the event anyway having attended the previous two Daxi award ceremonies, and last year sat on a winners table with our friends who won the 'Best Newcomer' award for 'Blood Brothers' Tattoo and Piercing studio in Agia Napa.  Its a great excuse to get all dressed up and have a child free evening and being nominated for an award is the 'icing on the cake' I'm up against some great people - including one of my best friends so it's definitely all about the taking part!



For more information on the Daxi Awards you can find the details on the Famagusta Parents Network website or at daximagazine.com


Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Santa magic at Christmas time

I am a huge fan of Christmas, I always have been but since having kids I love it even more. 

I've always said that Christmas is a 'Season' not just one day - well it says so in the song 'Tis the Season to be jolly'!  and most of the enjoyment for me comes from the run up to the actual day.
Christmas in Cyprus is a lot more low key than in England, and that combined with the usual blue skies and sunshine means that I like to work a bit harder to create the 'Christmas magic'

Last year the boys and I thoroughly enjoyed December, starting with the ‘Advent box’ – containing the advent calendar’s, Christmas themed books and colouring pages, and continuing with many different activities, such as decorating the tree and going to the various events in the area, and of course writing a letter to Santa together. 


 
I remember the excitement as a child of going to see Santa and the thought that he would be soon delivering presents to all the good boys and girls all over the world and I love seeing the same excitement in Leo now.

The most magical part for Leo though came just before Christmas when he actually received a reply from the man himself, as well as a certificate confirming his place on the ‘good list’   I know these years of innocence won’t last forever so it’s wonderful to be able to make memories like this with him that will last a lifetime, like my own childhood Christmas memories.

Leo was pleased that his letter was written just for him, especially as he realises how Santa must be so busy at this time of year. Santa told him that he was busy preparing for Christmas Eve and he let him know how proud he was of him for his achievements that year.  He knew what present he was hoping for, where he lives and also mentioned a couple of his friends that he was also going to be visiting.

He even requested which drink and snack he hoped Leo would leave out for him on Christmas Eve!

The letter has been carefully kept with our special keepsakes and certificate took pride of place on display for all to see, and also served as a handy reminder that he should continue to be a good boy!

I decided to create Santa's Cyprus Postbox to offer a bit of the magic to children all over Cyprus.  We offer a choice of letters for children, including this year a version for those who are doubting the existence of the big man in red.  We also have a special 'Baby's 1st Christmas' letter where Santa introduces himself to the little one and looks forward to many years of delivering presents to them, although too small to understand themselves it will be a lovely keepsake of their first Christmas, and add to the magic for older siblings too.

Not forgetting those naughty adults you can also send a loved one a letter from Santa telling them to buck up their ideas if they want to be on the 'nice list' - so if you are fed up with hubby leaving his socks on the floor maybe it will be a nice way to get your point across!

You can order your own personalised letters and certificates, find out more by emailing santascypruspostbox@hotmail.com or find them on facebook under ‘Santa’s Cyprus Postbox’








Monday, 27 October 2014

Halloween in Wonderland

After the success of last years Halloween event at Cyherbia Maze and Herb Gardens I was really excited about this year's offering.... yes I know it's for the kids really but I'm just a big kid at heart!

Keeping it fresh, and offering something different for this year the theme was 'Halloween in Wonderland'. Inviting everyone to 'jump down the rabbit hole' and explore the 'Magic Maze' the 'Haunted Herb Garden' and discover many more suprises along the way.


The Queen ordered her Royal Guards, the Aces to keep watch in the maze.  Our task was to find them, answer their question and collect a card from each of them.

Leo and his friend love the maze and Louka ran around happily behind them, not having the pushchair for the first time was a huge bonus for us as pushing it around on the gravel is hard work, especially when you keep going the wrong way!

As well as the Aces, the maze was hiding some spooky suprises too...


Scattered body parts, spiders and lots of cobwebs made it all the more interesting, fun for the boys but nice that it was not enough to genuinely terrify the litte ones.


Once out of the maze we headed for the tea rooms to enjoy the pumpkin treats and special Halloween snacks.  The boys also got to exchange their cards collected in the maze for a prize from the Creepy Cauldron.


As well as the treats they all enjoyed the games which included Broomstick Racing and Bobbing for Apples.


No more time to rest though as they were eager to explore the Enchanted Forest armed with their clipboards and puzzle sheets, where they had to find seven images out of a possible twelve which were hidden in the trees, The Cheshire Cat was also found here hiding in a tree.

For older kids (meaning Aaron and I!) it was time for some detective work as we located seven gravestones and found the clues as to how each person died.

Loukas doing his best 'scary face'

Lastly we headed into the Haunted Herb Garden to play 'Eye spy with my little eyeball'  and to find all the tea cups hanging in the trees to be able to work out the riddle written on each one.

Of course, I couldn't let the kids have ALL the fun though....


Once again, Cyherbia did a fantastic job and arranged another great family day out. It's a rarity in Cyprus to find events such as this, especially ones which are as organised and well promoted.  Well done Cyherbia, keep up the good work!


For more information on Cyherbia, visit the Famagusta Parents Network. 
All images originally taken by Klik Photo CY


Friday, 10 October 2014

Siblings

Growing up I always hoped I would have two children, I was an only child and I often envied my friends with siblings.   I never really understood the bond between them, and how they often seemed to absolutely hate each other yet obviously still love them.



Aaron is one of three children, and many years ago told me that he'd like to also have three - quite understandably he's now reconsidered this and agrees with me that two is just fine!

I'm sure that had I only had one child, that in some way I'd have always wanted another one, and would have felt sad as so many of my friends went on to have a second.  Now at least I know, (and just in case for some strange reason I forget, am writing it down)  that I don't want another, they don't get easier the more you have, and anyway, I don't like odd numbers and being outnumbered by kids is probably just asking for trouble!

There was a point when Leo was about 2 when I thought there was no way I could do it all again, the sleepless nights, the 'terrible two's', the never ending need to have eyes in the back of your head.

Louka, like his big brother before him had never been the easiest of babies although it's starting to improve slowly. Aaron and I often asked each other why we thought no.2 would be a good idea when he NEVER slept and was full on crazy baby all day,  you know they say you never get two babies the same...... they are right, the 2nd one was worse!



As much the boys drive me mad, and I'm often rolling my eyes, gritting my teeth and trying to refrain from bashing their heads together, I do look at them (mainly when they are asleep) and think how brilliant they both are, how lucky I am to have them and how brilliant it is that my plan came true in the end.

They are really becoming a little twosome now, Louka looks up to his big brother and copies all he does and Leo loves to teach him new things.

I love to see them playing together, especially when we are out (and not just because it finally makes my life a lot easier - although it does help!)

It amuses me to hear them chatting away when they don't think I'm in earshot, Louka joining in with his games and really starting to understand what's going on. 

I marvel at how similar they are, how much Louka looks like Leo at the same age and yet how different they are too.

I wonder how they will change over the years and hope they remain as close friends as they are now.  

dear beautiful

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Just keep swimming

Once upon a time I dreamed that I might have my own swimming pool, it seemed like the ultimate luxury and something I'd only have if I won the lottery. Whenever I went on holiday the pool was where you would find me, well, there or the bar!

Five years here and still the novelty has yet to wear off of having our own (communal for the apartment complex) pool. It was top of my wish list when looking for our apartment after all those years of dreaming of being able to swim whenever I wished.

It's the place we visited most this summer, the only way to cool down briefly in the middle of summer, and so convenient being just downstairs.

At the start of every year Leo would take a while to get back his confidence but with each year that passes it takes a lot less time.  Back in May, when I was being a big girlie wuss and refusing to get in the pool because it was cold,  I insisted he wore his armbands when I wasn't in with him, it quickly changed to him being allowed to take them off as long as he stayed in the shallow end.

Within a just a few days however, with me sat on the edge, I relented and let him take his arm bands off completely. Since that day they've not been on again!

Just chillin'
Leo's swimming has come on brilliantly, and his confidence in the water. Since letting him in on his own (always with one of us sat on the edge though obviously)  he's improved no end, and it's 'forced' him to swim rather than just clinging onto someone because they are there.

When it comes to jumping in, Leo is crazy!   Always happy to show you a never ending array of different (yet surprisingly similar!) jumps, from the favourite 'Spiderman jump'  through 'Rock star jump' and Power Ranger jumps.



Also this year he surprised us by suddenly swimming underwater, and picking up things from the bottom of the pool - as he discovered he could do when on one occasion I dropped my sunglasses and without a moments hesitation he was collecting them from the bottom.

From then on, our homemade dive toy (a plastic orange pot with a rock inside it) was the most popular toy at the pool!



Loukas was in on the action as well,with no fear of the water, which has both good and bad points! Always desperate to copy his brother, he finally mastered jumping in at the end of the summer after much encouragement to actually jump, rather than meekly step of the side with the danger of banging his head on the way in.

With his armbands on, Louka was happy floating around, and starting kicking his legs and getting across the pool with a surprising amount of speed.  His favourite thing was the lilo though, and we spent a lot of time lifting him onto it for him to throw himself off again with peals of laughter.

Leo's been a bit sad that it's now just a bit too cold to enjoy the pool (the weather is fine, the water is cold!)   but now he's just got a bike so it's onwards and upwards with a new challenge for him!


Wednesday, 1 October 2014

The Cyprus bucket list


Many years ago I sat with Cyprus guidebook excitedly flicking through the pages dreaming of all the places I would visit when it became our new home, no need to pick the best few things to fit into a 2 week holiday, I was anticipating going everywhere and doing everything.

Of course, when we first signed our 'UK' lives away and made the decision to move we were yet to have children - footloose and fancy free with no consideration to driving distances, nap times, pushchairs or little toddling legs on uneven ground or whining children.

Five years on and I still feel I am yet to see the 'real' Cyprus, or even the 'real Cyprus' as portrayed in the guide books,  the museums, archaeological sites and traditional villages.



With absolutely no intention to do so, most of our friends seem to be fellow British expats and on the still rare occasions we go out we end up in 'expat pubs' as that's where our friends are which doesn't really help in getting to know the real Cyprus.  I'd love to know more about the history of the area, and how much it has changed over the years, I really need to improve my Greek - or at least increase my confidence to even try to speak it. My problem is that even when speaking to Cypriots who speak good English they struggle to understand me as I talk too fast!

I've been saying for years I'd love to go to a Greek wedding (especially as I've only been to about 5 weddings in my whole life and one of those was mine!) Of course, with the way Greek weddings generally work I could have been to many by now as we often get invites in the postbox to weddings happening in the village but I don't want to go that much to be on my own without knowing anyone!


Going places is slowly getting easier though and with the launch of my other website (Famagusta Parents Network) it's been the perfect excuse to get out and about and start to work my way through the list in my head - all for the purpose of 'research'!

With this in mind I've started to create my ultimate 'To Go' list based on how much I enjoyed my 101 in 1001 challenge.  There is no time limit on the list like there was before as it mainly depends on having the finances to fund all these excursions, either that or the realisation from these places that it might be a good bit of advertising for them!

My wish list ranges from easy, inexpensive local visits to not so cheap or island wide jaunts requiring a bit more thought with a demanding 5 year old and a 2 year old.

You can see the list at 'Must See Cyprus', let me know if I've missed anything you'd recommend doing in Cyprus.



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Saturday, 27 September 2014

Dancing with my 'baby' in the summer rain

Who'd have thought it, that the rain would ever cause such excitement.  I've always hated the rain, traditionally the sure fire way to ruin a day for me in the UK  but once you approach the end of the summer and almost 6 months without a drop of the wet stuff and your outlook tends to change!

There has been rain recently in Larnaca and surrounding villages but it had been yet to reach us. Today as the first few drops fell I remarked to Aaron that it would probably come to nothing as the first one usually does.....



Leo who once said 'I don't like raining, we gonna need umbrellas'  (to be precise 3 years ago this week, thanks to the wonder of 'Timehop')   went a little bit crazy and ran around dancing and singing, oh and doing 'Power Ranger' moves - like you do.




I was amused to see look over the balcony and see my Dad standing in the rain, with the garden hose aimed at the gazebo roof, after laughing at him though I did decide to get the broom and start sweeping whilst it was still raining. It took only a minute or so to become saturated!

I've often thought it amusing to see all the Cypriot housewives pop out the second it stops raining to hose down their driveways, and even the pavements and roads, even if it looks like it might continue to rain.  But today, sweeping after the rain I couldn't fight the urge to grab that hosepipe - seems it gets us all in the end!

Louka missed all the excitement by timing his nap badly which is no bad thing as he's not mastered the art of walking around on a slippery tiled balcony.   Leo appeared to have the time of his life though and danced until the very last drops fell.

In true Cyprus style it ended suddenly, and within minutes the sun was breaking back through the clouds.

Ever since I've not been able to get this old favourite of mine out of my head.... Belinda Carlisle's Summer Rain


Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall
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