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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Friday, 26 September 2014

Reading Memories - Flashback Friday

Books and reading have always been a big part of my life, some of my earliest memories are sitting on my Mum's lap reading books together. As a pre-schooler I would insist on Mum reading the same books to me again and again, much like my boys to do me (and her!) now.  Often after I had dragged her out of bed at sunrise and run her ragged all day she would be struggling to stay awake once snuggled up reading books to me, her eyes would droop and I'd complain that she was reading my well loved stories wrong!

My Dad is also an avid reader too, and our house was always full of books. I also loved our frequent library trips which continued until I could drive when I would go by myself after work. I can picture the library as well as I can my childhood bedroom and I have fond memories of how we would split up as soon as we entered and find each other later on at the desk with an armful of books each. 

There was one book Mum and I regularly read, I can't remember the name but in it , it talked about people 'disembarking' from an airplane. Mum explained what it meant and carried on reading but for some reason the word held a fascination with me and I pointed it out and asked again what it meant each and every time we read the book.  It turned into a standing joke as I can remember her saying ' you KNOW what it means' It went on for years and is still mentioned to this day!

I couldn't give you a definitive answer as to what my favourite book was,  as I mentioned in my 'Life in Books' post, The Hungry Caterpillar was an early favourite, being replaced by the 'Little House' series later on.   Others that stand out would be the 'Enormous Crocodile' by Roald Dahl and the Mr Men books.  Of course,  much later 'Forever' by Judy Blume was top of the list for a while, like I imagine everyone else my age!

 I loved trips to the bookshop with my pocket money and would spend ages trying to chose which book to buy from the huge selection.  Nancy Drew, Mallory Towers, Sweet Valley High and 'Choose your own Adventure' books, plus the Famous Five, and Secret Seven - were all favourites of mine.

I can not imagine a house without books and I although I don't read as much as I once did, I still can't resist the lure of a unread book and head straight to the book sections when out and about at the markets and shops. My focus is now on children's books, and helping the boys to develop their own passion for reading to last them a lifetime. 

Just a small selection of some Leo's books!

mummy mishaps

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Why the hell not! - My first steps in blogging

Five years ago, sat at my laptop in my parents conservatory surrounded by boxes and with a 4 month old Leo sleeping by my side I started a blog.  I'm not sure why I suddenly decided to do it, it was not something I'd previously thought of doing and I didn't stop to think about it in anyway, I found 'Blogger' signed up paused briefly to come up with a blog name - 'Why the hell not?'  (start a blog?, Move to Cyprus?  one of those two!) and started typing.

I had a quick look at the layout and colour options, clicking a couple and I think going with a light brown colour for some reason, no images, no social media, nothing except my first little post - 'Do you want to move to Cyprus?' 

I wrote seven posts that first week, to no-one in particular as I hadn't told anyone or shared it anywhere. Looking back the posts seem so short especially when you consider I was talking about such a big thing in my life - our imminent move to a new country where we knew no-one and nothing at all, leaving our friends and family behind and being new parents at the same time -  hardly any photos, and the minimum of text, and most of the posts haven't even got titles!

After seven posts in as many days, it seems a bit strange that I then only managed two in October and one in November, then not a thing until January but blogging hadn't become a habit at that point and from moving into our apartment at the end of November it took almost months to get online, and even when I did write after all that time it wasn't much more than a paragraph!

I soon changed the name as I didn't like it but struggled trying to think of one, I came to the conclusion that it didn't really matter anyway as I didn't think anyone would read it. 'A matter of choice' comes from my favourite quote -

'Destiny is not a matter of chance, but a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.'
William Jennings Bryan

It had a similar reasoning to 'Why the hell not?'  as in I chose to start a blog, and I chose to move to Cyprus.  I thought a couple of years later about changing it but I can't bring myself to do that now!

I didn't think anyone would be reading it, other than maybe my Mum and a couple of friends I'd be leaving in England but I was stunned to see the numbers gradually going up, I remember coming on one day and being stunned that I had 30 people following my blog, and I didn't know any of them!

Back in the early days I never imagined how much time I would come to spend blogging and writing plus all the other online stuff that comes with it. I probably wouldn't have thought I'd still be keeping it up 5 years and nearly 1000 posts later.  I can't imagine not doing it now, and most of what I do all stems back to that original post - my monthly contributions to Daxi magazine,  my section on and Mums in Cyprus, and of course the Famagusta Parents Network and all that encompasses, plus the other bits and pieces I seem to get myself involved in along the way!

Lets see what the next five years brings then.....

Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice

Linking up to Golden Oldies

Monday, 22 September 2014

Loukas aged two, loves....

Several years ago after seeing a lovely idea by Lauren at Real Housewife of Suffolk County, I made a 'Leo loves' post and since then I've not missed doing an update post each year.

Here is Loukas now he has just turned two years old...

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Thursday, 18 September 2014

A Crafty Activity day - Flashback Friday

People always say that you never get something for nothing but Tiny Acorns recently proved otherwise with their first Childrens’ FREE activity day.  

Sam, the creator of Tiny Acorns Creavtivity Centre wanted to provide the children with something completely different to do that all the parents could get involved in without worrying about the cost, twelve weeks school holidays is a long time and it can get very expensive trying to occupy the kids as they get bored and restless towards the end of the holidays.

The aim was to offer the children the experience to try something new, and in the process generate some awareness of the creative businesses that we have in the local area.

Many companies were involved in providing activities for the day, along with the craft table, junk modelling and drawing stations set up by Tiny Acorns.  There was tile painting with the staff from ‘I Parea Mikron Filon' nursery  with donations from The Pottery Place, face painting by St Johns Church, Deryneia, Baby Ballet and Theatre arts by Performers Academy of Dance, pottery making with Askott Pottery and story time with myself as the Famagusta Parents Network.

There was also a free raffle with prizes donated by Personalised in Cyprus and Banbao building bricks as well as Tiny Acorns craft packs. Home Sweets Home were there selling  wide variety of retro sweets which was very popular with kids and adults alike, and my hubby was there as Aaron’s Klik Photo CY to capture the fun on camera!

The day was a great success and well attended by families of all ages. I took both my boys who are huge Tiny Acorns fans, Leo (age 5) having attended throughout the summer holidays with Loukas and I and loving every second. 

I asked Leo what his favourite bit was and considering he never seems to have a huge amount of imagination I was surprised to hear him say it was the junk crafting station, where he made a 'sword’  from a tube, tape and a paper plate!  I loved to see the children having fun and the parents getting involved as well, a real community event and an outstanding achievement from Tiny Acorns.

I loved being part of the event as the Famagusta Parents Network and helping to support Sam in arranging the day, it was great fun and I think our concepts work really well together, hopefully the attendees did to, and I look forward to future FPN / Tiny Acorns collaborations!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

First trip to the dentist, and a blogger in training!

Like many people, a trip to the dentist is not on my list of fun things to do and something I have always put off until really necessary. Over the years I have had a lot of work done and as an adult its not only been an unpleasant experience but also an expensive one!

When I moved to  to Cyprus I was even less enthused about it, leaving the subsided NHS behind, figuring out a new system and probably paying more for the privilege  and then I eventually did battle with the general hospital for an appointment after losing half a tooth whilst pregnant.

I've used the general hospital since being here for everything from the kids injections, general doctors appointments and giving birth, going private has never been an option when the kids injections are free, and the everything else was just €2 (now €3 for general doctors and €6 to see a specialist).   The treatment itself was ok but the fact you cannot make a appointment is a nightmare and saw me sitting on a hard plastic chair outside the dentists's door for almost 5 hours.

Writing his own name on the registration form

When it came to the boys, this filled me with dread - knowing that Leo would possibly refuse to co-operate in the best of circumstances the thought of having to sit him there for so long first would never be a good start. Although I thought it would be good to get him in early before anything would need to be done I decided to put it off until 'another day'

I continued to put it off, including any more visits for myself until the last minute when I had such bad toothache I 'wanted to rip my own head off', I declared this one Saturday morning on facebook and was instantly directed to Loukia Stylianou, a local private dentist by a friend of mine.

After such great treatment I mentioned my un-enthusiasm to bring the boys for a visit and Loukia assured me that it would be fine to bring them and there would be no pressure on Leo to do anything.

Our first visit, several months ago was just Leo and I, and as predicted he was not that happy about it, he liked Loukia and spoke to her quite happily in Greek, and he was surprised and pleased when she gave him the form to fill in rather than me, but refused to get in the chair, and he refused to open his mouth. Not at all fazed by this Loukia let him 'drive' the chair, making it go up and down and back and forth. As well as that she gave him a mirror and got him to check her own teeth!

That was that for our first visit, but I was keen to improve on this so we recently went back, this time with Loukas and I explained to Leo that I needed him to help me write an article for the website. He took his camera and willing sat in the chair for a photo 'for the site'.  Loukas was loving it, and climbed on too a ride on the chair and Loukia was great with them both, putting on cartoons on the ceiling mounted tv and letting Leo press all the buttons and even work some of the equipment.

It didn't take long for him to open his mouth - all the while I was taking photos, and in the end he happily let her clean his teeth with the special whizzing toothbrush!

Loukas wasn't at all bothered by the chair or the noises but didn't want to be left out of anything so spent most of the time trying to climb up Leo and sit on him, this actually helped as Leo was keen to show his little brother what to do.

All the while Loukia spoke to Leo, rather than me and I think this made a big difference to him and he was pleased (as was I) when she told him he had good teeth and he must have been brushing them well, after a good discussion about how the tooth fairy had collected his first baby tooth, and a present of a small tube of toothpaste he left happily agreeing to go back in 6 months time, no doubt with his camera again for another blog post - who knew that my blog was going to be so useful!

Leo's mentioned his visit to the dentist several times since and I'm sure he'll be more than happy to go back next time.  I'm glad I took him before any problems he may get so his early dentist visits are positive ones.

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Wednesday, 10 September 2014

September Sky

It's almost mid September and you can feel the change in seasons approaching, the skies are still blue, the sun is still hot and temperature are still high during the day, but the schools have gone back and the tourists numbers slowly start to decrease, there is more of a breeze in the air and the white fluffy clouds start to reappear in the sky.

The swimming pools start to cool, and the wind gives you goose bumps when you get out, the sea no longer feels like stepping in a too warm bath.  The nights are drawing in but it no longer makes me sad like it did many years ago, it makes me look forward to a Cyprus autumn with its slightly cooler days and the chance to wear clothes long discarded to the back of the wardrobe.

It's a chance to walk again, to go to the park and to not worry about the intensity of the sun and to always be on the lookout for a bit of shade.

It's the chance to enjoy the beautiful September skies.....

Linking to The Gallery - this week's theme is Sky

Monday, 1 September 2014

Right Here, Right now

Although I still love my little blog, my new 'baby' the Famagusta Parents Network is the thing that just can't help but spend more time on at the moment - it's like the younger baby that accidentally takes more attention while you throw the older one a biscuit and put the tv on. I have all good intentions to write here and then I sit at the laptop and the words don't come so easily. I saw this post by Karin at Cafe Bebe and thought it would be a good place to start.

Inspired by Bug Bird Bee, 'Right Here, Right Now' is a monthly insight to where you are, what you're thinking and what's going on in your life.

Currently I am: Balancing, managing two blogs and a magazine column, entertaining the boys whilst encouraging to entertain themselves and play together, dealing with the heat and humidity which has been hard going over the last couple of weeks and trying to come up with interesting things to do, dinners to eat and inexpensive places to go.

Reading:  as well as Bob the builder, The Gruffalo and what seems like hundreds of random kids books constantly I am actually reading a proper book at the moment. It is rare these days for me to step away from the laptop and read something for myself but I recently picked up the 'Time Travellers Wife' again. I've read it several times now and still love it, it's so much better than the film.

Listening to: a small selection of songs requested by Leo who gets focused on a few songs at a time that he has heard us play and his favourite at the moment is Elvis Presley's 'Burning Love'.  Leo is singing it constantly especially the last 'Just a hunk, a hunk of burning love'  which then starts Louka off running around in circles shouting 'Hunka hunka'

Laughing at:  Mainly Loukas, he turned two last week and is becoming a real little comedian, almost putting sentences together and laughing his head off at random things all the time!

Swooning over: Doctor Who, that is in general rather than the actual Doctor himself now (that's not to say I don't like Peter Capaldi, he's just not as 'pretty as 10 and 11)  Even though David Tennant left,and I was sad to see him go I possibly love the program more than ever,  I realise I am a bit of a geek but I just love it and I've been spending way too much time online reading stuff about it and watching old clips. Althought I still haven't brought myself to watch Classic Doctor Who yet!

Planning: As always, lots of things in some vague way in my head, but next up is a 'Coffee morning/Market' I'm arranging at a local pub in a couple of weeks time.  I arranged one back in May but this should be bigger and better. I'm also going to plan my meals for next week, as it's about time I got back to my target weight (again!)

Eating: aaaahh everything!  I've not weighed in at Slimming World for weeks now, even though I'm there each week as the 'weigh lady'.  I was at target but I know I'll be over that now so it's 100% back on plan for me next week, just got a couple more Summer holiday days to enjoy first!

Feeling: frustrated as there are so many things I'd like to do, places to go but we are restricted by lack of funds or the high temperatures which limit activities to things to do in water or air conditioned places!

Discovering: How much Loukas is learning and saying all of a sudden,  and how he is delevoping his own personality which is so like yet so different to Leo's.

Watching at the cinema:  I've not been to the cinema in over 5 years, last time I think was to watch Seven Pounds, and I was very pregnant and uncomfortable, and almost fell asleep!

Wearing: As little as possible!  Usually a bikini top and shorts if I'm at home or as little as I can get away with when leaving the house as it's still so hot. I'm kind of looking forward to the temperature dropping so I can go back to wearing proper clothes again.

Cooking: Again, as little as possible!  It's hot enough without standing in front of an oven, I prefer to be making salads while Aaron BBQ's when possible.

Wondering: What the new (school) year will bring, with opportunities and the new season. September here in Cyprus always feels like the start of a new beginning, the summer weather is still going strong but this month will eventually bring about a change in temperature and as the tourists start to lessen a different feel to the island.

Making: I don't 'make' things unless you can count memories or mess!

Summer - right here, right now.

Teach your child to read in 5 weeks with Reading Eggs

I've lost count how many times I've recommended the Reading Eggs website to people since discovering it 2 years ago but just in case you're not one of those people, I'm going to do it again!

Reading Eggs, I thought would be a great assets in helping Leo not only develop a love of books but also to read English seeing as he won't be learning English at school for a year or two yet.  At the age of three he loved to play on my laptop, usually on the Thomas the Tank engine website but I introduced him to Reading Eggs using a free trial offer.    He loved it and over a long period of time merrily worked his way up to lesson 120, pretty much abandoning poor old Thomas and sticking to this instead!

Now it amazes me to hear him reading, books, adverts, you name it he's giving it a very good shot and usually figures it out.  He still loves Reading Eggs as there is so much to do on the site, and it doesn't feel like learning - the only problem being was having to give up my laptop......   although now he has his own tablet I think it's time to put it on there for him!

During September Reading Eggs are launching their Great Literacy Challenge It is a nationwide effort to inspire young children to get reading, running from 1st September until the 30th.  New users to the website can claim a free 5 week trial of Reading Eggs, to get their children on board and start learning to read.

To claim your free trial visit their website  or find them on facebook

I received an extension to my subscription in return for this post but was not told what to write - the opinions are my own and it really did teach Leo to read!

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