Saturday, 31 December 2016

The Christmas Present Hunt

After a month of chocolate for breakfast and increasing excitement Christmas day finally dawned. I really hadn't slept well - I was so convinced that one of the boys would wake up and demand to get up at some stupid hour that I was waking up with every little noise all night long.  I heard Leo go to the bathroom at 5:30am and was expecting him to come in, or at least go and look to see the presents but he went straight back to bed!

Eventually I heard Louka come out and as I lay listening for the reaction Leo jumped out of bed to show him and explain.  I walked down the hall and loved hearing Leo show Louka that Santa had eaten the mince pies and drank the 'Maximoki'  (it's their name for Whisky - I have no idea where it came from!)


The boys had been desperately hoping for Lego Dimensions, which was literally the only thing they asked for.  I had asked many times if there was anything else they would like and both would look at me blankly in reply.

The only 'problem' I told them is that we have nothing to play it on.
Undeterred they asked Santa for a PS3.   I explained several times that he probably wouldn't be able to bring such a big present, but it didn't stop them hoping.

We had a sneaky suspicion that Santa would bring them  Lego Dimensions and luckily he knew that we had managed to get the boys an XBox from all of us, so he brought them the correct version.

We also knew that once they were opened the boys would want nothing else other than to play on it so we hid the Xbox downstairs at my parents apartment.  We opened all our presents, first thing and then had a little wait for Nana and Grandad to come up for a cup of tea and their presents from us.


This meant a delay of a few hours in which the boys had the thing they wanted the most in the world but nothing on which to play it!!

I think Leo was optimistic that presents were not yet done and so all was not lost (he knows from previous years that presents also come from Nana & Grandad when we go down for lunch)  as he asked a few times to play it but didn't really seem to upset.   Louka was quietly confused and sat down after everything was open and with his hand on the box said sadly 'But we didn't get a playstation'

Once everyone was together I presented the boys with a card, with instructions on how to find a special present.  They had to work together, and solve the clues to the 'present hunt'. There were 12 clues,  taking them all around the apartment and eventually down to one hidden in my car, taking them into my parents and eventually the final hiding place of their shed.

There they found two Xbox controllers wrapped up....



....followed by the actual console!


As I'm sure you can imagine there was much rejoicing.  For one day only it was all set up on Grandad's tv and we proceeded to have the quietest Christmas we've ever known!

It was a lovely day,  and I also got a new toy - two in fact, I got a light box (in the photo below) and an actual toy - I got the Doctor Who level pack for Lego Dimensions!



The one where we actually left the house

If in doubt, get out!   I have no idea if someone once said that to me or if it just popped into my head but I've decided its a good phrase when it comes to deciding what to do.   I've never been very good at just getting out the house with the boys, always over thinking it - too hot, too cold?  Too windy?   Will the weather change?   Will we be hungry?  Should we eat first, take a picnic?   Are we too tired? Will the kids have fun or just moan at me?  - you get the idea!

As I mentioned in my last post, I was suffering from 'Crimbo Limbo'  (yes I am just making random things up now!)   We hadn't left the house in days, I was missing the excitement and anticipation of Christmas and there was far too much pyjama wearing, Xbox playing and chocolate eating going on for me to to stay sane.

The problem had been that it had been raining on and off for almost a week, dry spells have been very short lived and I'm sure the sun has only been out once!  So when I saw that there was a few glimpses of blue in the sky this morning I dragged the kids out for some fresh air.

(Louka in particular was not enthusiastic,   saying 'I just want to stay home' as we forced clothes on to him!  I knew he'd get over it though as soon as we were out)

Leo's suggestion was to go to our local park but I was itching for some sea views,  it's been a while and I find it quite therapeutic,  plus I figured there would be lots of muddy puddles along the walk to keep the boys happy.




We were rewarded with blue skies and plenty of mud - happiness all round!


It was warm enough to leave the coats in the car and although the clouds in the distance were dark I was optimistic we would be ok.   (telling myself it wouldn't actually kill us if we did end up getting wet - I seem to have developed a fear of accidentally getting rained on!) 



We discovered new paths and went exploring, and in what I am telling myself is a brilliant use of imagination and playfulness (rather than an unhealthy obsession with video games) played a real life version of Lego Dimensions.  



Leo was Batman, Louka was Gandalf and of course as the only girl I was Wildstyle.  Under Leo's instruction but with an unusual amount of input from Louka (well,   he could 'build' faster and has magic so Batman was quite happy!)  we 'found keystones, located minikits and collected coins'   - I pretty much just walked along agreeing with it all but occasionally couldn't resist joining in when I saw something interesting!



We ended up on the beach back by the car which was handy as not only did I get to sit down while the boys ran around screaming and shouting (we were the only ones there and I was really hoping they'd get it out of their system for the day!)   but it started to rain once more so we escaped before the next downpour!


My new years goal?
To get out more without over thinking it!




Country Kids
from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Friday, 30 December 2016

The Christmas Limbo

What a difference a week makes, this time last week seems like a lifetime ago.

On Thursday the boys broke up from school and we had our usual pre-Christmas get together with our friends at our house.  This year the Dad's joined us (well, once they had got back from the pub) and everyone stayed for dinner and board games.


Friday was the first day of the holidays,  I spent the morning with a bit of a fuzzy head from the previous nights Christmas spirits and recovered in time for our girls night out dinner.     Leo was excited not only about it being almost Christmas but his Taekwondo grading that evening for his yellow belt.



Saturday was Christmas Eve!

I love Christmas Eve - full of excitement and anticipation.

The boys spent the  morning watching Christmas cartoons and some colouring., we all played a bit of 'Christmas Bingo'.

Apart from a quick pop to the shops for last minute baking ingredients and one present to wrap we were all ready for the big day.    We cranked up the festive music, over excited the kids. opened the festive goodies and declared the 'bar open' at lunchtime.

We ended the day with our Snuggle Sack tradition, new fluffy pyjamas for the boys and the Nativity Story, mince pies and whisky for Santa and off to bed.




Christmas Day!

This gets its own blog post, we had a great day but it's over far too soon!


Boxing Day

Didn't go quite as planned,  but was enjoyed by the boys as they got to play Lego Dimensions which was perfection to them.

The boys and I went out to a friends house the following day, without Aaron unfortunately as he was unwell.

I'm now not entirely sure what day it is,  I feel we are living in a sort of twilight zone,  a Christmas Limbo if you will.  The weather has been atrocious - rain every day for a at least a week now, and most of the time it has been dark and gloomy with it.  Getting the kids out of their pyjamas is hard work - a task I've generally been putting off until after lunch, only to confuse them a couple of hours later when I say  'oh stick your 'jamas on and lets watch a film after dinner'!

I can't remember the last time I ate a normal dinner,  rather than random combinations of cheese, sausage rolls and cold meat.  Sitting around the house doing nothing other than eating and playing xbox is starting to wear a bit thin.

I'm feeling a bit lost, and not sure what to do with ourselves. It's always a bit of a let down I guess after so much excitement and planning for Christmas, and so many events going on all month,  I'm starting to itch to get on with stuff like taking the decorations down and updating our website, sorting out the boys room etc but also feeling like I may as well wait until the new year,   I decided this morning that we'd stick our welly boots on and go for a walk - I know I'd get them out with the promise of puddle jumping but I've just looked up and its starting to rain again.

I can see some blue skies though so maybe it will be short lived and we will brave it.    I think it's time to get out of the Chrimbo Limbo!



Thursday, 29 December 2016

2016 Flashbacks - Part 1

At the end of 2015 I wrote a series of blog posts looking back over the year and tried to play catch up on the many things I'd not got round to writing about as they happened.   Full of optimism I went into January 2016 hoping to keep up but somewhere along the way I forgot!   I even briefly considered stopping blogging altogether.

Looking back I'm pleased though that I didn't and still wrote 52 posts, a few less than last year but not a bad amount for the year.  I'm sure I will never go back to the numbers of the early days,  although I did kind of hope to beat last year in a completely pointless competition with myself. 

So,  2016....everyone's saying it was a terrible year but for us it was a good one.  

January

I was, as I am most years, eager to get on with the year once Christmas and New Year's Eve is over.  I love Christmas but I enjoy the run up to it and by the end of December its onwards and upwards. Decorations down, to-do lists written and plans in action.   When the boys went back to school Aaron and I worked hard on updating the Klik Photo website and brochure and planning for the year. 

Family wise, we discovered Geocaching and even deliberately went out in the rain!


February

Looking back over the photos I took this month it seems that Geocaching was the only thing we did,   of course the reality is 3 or 4 outdoor adventures is weighed up against hours of tv and video games!

The weather can be changeable this time of year and when the sun is out it is much better to be outside that at home,  and so much warmer than staying indoors.  It still amazes me after all these years that we can get such lovely weather so early in the year. 





We had walks along Fig Tree Bay, Protaras,  explored Sirena Bay in Agia Triada and had a lovely afternoon out in Agia Napa, which even ended up having a Sunday roast on the way home.   and the boys were well behaved even in the restaurant and ate all their dinner - a noteworthy day indeed!


We also had an 'Eventful Monday' when Leo lost two of his teeth, a hospital appointment and fish and chips on the beach,  followed by an overnight stay in hospital the following week when Leo hurt his neck!

March

A busier and more varied month in March,  most importantly we celebrated my Mum's birthday - twice in fact.   First with a family gathering followed by afternoon tea as part of her birthday present. 



Aaron and I took the boys to Nicosia to visit the Living Dinosaur exhibition, 


We tried to celebrate Green Monday on the beach but were beaten by the weather! There was no rain but the wind was unbearable and the sand was a nightmare!

It had started so well!


I enjoyed looking over the first few months of the year, it really doesn't seem that long ago!

Stay tuned for part 2...

Thursday, 22 December 2016

December so far...

It's the last day of school today and I'm quite excited about it!  I always am at the end of term, summer and winter, it reminds me of the end of term excitement we used to have.  Even though there is a small part of me remembering that it means I don't have my mornings to work in, I love school holidays, especially now the boys tend to let me stay in bed until 8am!

I started this month with a massive to-do list, which I not only managed to to lose like I normally do, I actually completed it.   Well pretty much, apart from making cookies.  I had told the boys I'd make cookies for them to decorate and haven't done that but they were quite happy to be told we could do it in the holiday. 

I do love a list, especially a Christmas related one, shopping, wrapping, and baking are all enjoyable for me at this time of year.  (It only lasts through December then the novelty wears off for another year!)   We now have Mince pies, Onion Marmalade, Lemon Curd, and some edible Christmas gifts all ready to be given, 

We've been busy with lots of activities this month,   

The Performers Academy Christmas Show, 

Loukas school play and Christmas Fayre, 

Christmas Avenue in Deryneia, 

Leiarna's birthday party,   



Festive Zumba class which was not only great fun but ended with cake and booze - that's my kind of exercise! 

The very important day of decorating,   accompanied by the first of the mince pies and baileys. 



We've had several evenings working with the Photo Booth at various Christmas parties

This afternoon we have friends coming round for a pre-Christmas get together,   the men are off to the pub and we are making decorations and playing games with the kids (not sure that's entirely fair but I'm still looking forward to it!)   

I'm sure the kids will all be over excited having just finished school but I'm wildly optimistic we can stick them all in front of a film after dinner and have a nice evening still!

Tomorrow Leo had his second taekwondo grading which he is really excited about, and then it is Christmas Eve!

So it continues to be busy here,   I'll see you on the other side!

Merry Christmas!

Photo Booth by Klik Photo CY
Image credit - Klik Photo CY


Friday, 9 December 2016

The blogs of Christmas Past

Looking back over the last few years, some of my favourite blog posts have been Christmas themed. I mentioned one in my recent 'Top 5 Blog posts' but thought I'd do do a festive version.

In no particular order I give you....

Leo's Thoughts On Christmas - this was written back in 2012 when he was 3 years old.  I was surprised at his answers and I wondered how different they would have been if we weren't in Cyprus.

Christmas Memories - This one wasn't even written by me but is is one of my favourites. My Mum shares her Christmas memories. it

Our Cyprus Christmases  - Written in 2013 and looking back over the 4 years we'd been in Cyprus and how it had changed for me at that point.

Home for Christmas - this one is about how I always want to be at home for Christmas.

Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? - Which do you prefer?

Christmas Eve Snuggle Sack -  I include this one as this was the first year I did  the Snuggle Sack and I'm so glad I did,  the boys love it and it's a nice and simple way to make the evening special.


I'm glad that my blog gives me a chance to look back over the years and remind me of more than photos on their own would do.  

2012



Thursday, 1 December 2016

The Christmas Countdown

It's December already and that means my countdown to Christmas can begin.   I love Christmas and I do always say that it is a 'season' not just a day (it's not just me - it says so in the song!) but I think it should generally be confined to December.

Decoration Day   (it has capital letters because it is an actual event, one that is planned with mince pies,  Christmas music and plenty of baileys,   planned to ensure no-one has to drive anywhere afterwards!) has always been a point of 'discussion'  in our house,   you may remember my previous post on this - The First of the Christmas Traditions.   So it has to be not too early and not too late,  our compromise is usually the weekend somewhere around the 12th.    Well, I say compromise,  Aaron doesn't really get a say in it - I just announce it!

I love to be organised, but I rarely write Christmas cards before December, I like to sit with a festive film or music on whilst I write them so it can't be too early.    Presents can be brought any time as and when I see them or can get them sent over as long as its not accompanied by a smug facebook status.

I am a big kid when it comes to Christmas, but big enough that I can wait until the right month when it comes to festive fun at home, no songs or films or books before the 1st if not later.    Well apart from the year I was happily making a  Christmas youtube playlist in November without realising it was autoposting every song direct to facebook.

It's just not as magical otherwise and I'm over it before the mince pies have even been left for Santa. Even the kids get bored of it as I noticed a couple of years ago when I got a bit carried away with almost daily Christmas related activities.

It never used to be like this and I wonder if our generation just hasn't grown up like our parents had? I see many people saying they 'have' to put their tree up because the kids are badgering them when really I think they mean they want to and the kids are are good excuse.     I always say I can't stop mine from playing too many video games but if I'm being honest I don't really mind,  I just feel like I should.

Of course at work you have to plan for Christmas much earlier - that is fine and I have no problems with that.   It's the busiest time of the year for many companies and the chance for promotions and marketing and therefore needs to be planned ahead of time.   But I do wish some companies would tone it down a bit before December - the main reason that Aaron dislikes Christmas songs (other than the fact they are way too cheesy)  is due to him working in retail for many years where they started playing them in October.

It's a bit different in the UK to here,  although over the last seven years we've seen big changes and it get a lot more commercial. In 2009 we arrived on 24th November leaving a winter world of Christmas decorations and a country deep in preparations, it was like travelling back in time a couple of months for us to the height of an English summer without a festive thought in sight.

This year I went out on the 1st November and was genuinely surprised to see fully decorated Christmas trees sparkling away in a shop window,  and Jumbo had their things out in the middle of October when I was trying to find Halloween stuff!

Anyway,   it's the 1st December today,  so we're good to go.... advent calendars are out,  let the season commence!



I also reserve the right to break my own rules  before Aaron points out I may have been 'accidentally' humming Chrismas songs before the 1st and wearing a Santa hat to annoy him.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Painting Autumn Trees

A few weeks ago Louka and I were unusually home alone as Leo had gone to play with a school friend, unused to being without his brother he was a bit sad about not being able to go too so I decided to cheer him up by getting the paints out and giving him something to create.

I remembered that Leo and I had created Autumn trees several years ago so I decided to recycle the same idea!

Louka was very impressed to be told we would be painting our arms and hands to use as the tree,  of course he wanted me to do it as well and I think his favourite part of the activity was painting me!

For the leaves I gave him the choice of cotton buds as well as paint brushes, and I showed him how to make a bigger selection of autumn colours by mixing the paint that we had.

I only took one photo which is rare for me but we both enjoyed the fact I put the camera down and got stuck into the paints!


He carried on for quite a while, asking for several more bits of paper and happily mixing colours.  He kept going longer than I think he would normally do if Leo was joining in too.    It was nice just having some time with Louka and I realised its a very rare occurance. 


The following day Leo's autumn tree came up in timehop from 4 years ago!


Monday, 28 November 2016

Reasons to be Cheerful - A lovely Sunday and Motivated Monday

A month or so ago I was full of good intentions regarding my blog,  I'd published several posts,   14 in fact over October and November which I hadn't come close to since early 2015.    I was on such a roll that I'd even had several more ready to go and saved in my drafts folder!

I don't even know what happened but it's a bit like juggling,  as soon as you take your eye of the ball you drop it and have to start again.    I find it hard to focus equally on all the different things I do and tend to fall into an 'all or nothing' approach.  

So here I am,   feeling cheerful and trying to stay motivated on all aspects at the same time!

Yesterday was a great day and one where everything just seemed to go well.   I had planned to cook a roast dinner for the first time this year (too hot in the summer to consider it, and the boys usually refuse to eat them so I tend not to bother very often even in winter).   I was woken up early by the boys and rather than trying to go back to sleep I thought I might as well get up and do something useful for a change - they play nicely in the mornings now so I tend to make the most of the first lie-ins I've been able to have for the best part of seven years.

I was pottering around quite happily while the boys played in their room,  and by 9am had managed to do 2 loads of washing,  sweep, mop, clean the bathroom and prepare bits for dinner that evening.   Not bad going before breakfast!

I had promised the boys I would take them to the local toy shop, as they wanted to use their pocket money to buy themselves some Hot Wheels cars.  I hadn't told them it was the official shop opening day (even though it has been open for months) and to celebrate there was also a bouncy castle,   train ride and food and drink with stilt walkers,  mascots and music.

We spent a few hours up there sat outside in the sunshine and met up with a friend and her girls.   The children played happily and we had a beer and some food whilst enjoying the sunshine.   It was a great afternoon,  and it was all free - the food,  drinks and even the train.    A real surprise, as I've been to many events that have been much worse and we've paid for them!

My friend and the girls came back for a cuppa which meant the kids were quite happy to leave and they played some more, which meant when they left my boys were happy to sit quietly (ish)  and watch television while I got dinner underway. 

We then went on to eat dinner, at the table - all at the same time like normal people for once!    Louka refused to eat anything except sweetcorn, but Leo impressed me and cleared his plate for the first time ever when eating a roast dinner. 

Boys were then bathed, and had a story in bed.    I cleared up, and even put the clothes out ready for Monday morning.

I realise this is all fairly normal stuff,  or should be probably for most people but it's really not that common in this house.   I rarely rush around and we are never late for school but it NEVER all goes that smoothly.     I feel like I achieved some sort of new parenting level yesterday  (ok,   only one child ate dinner properly but you can't have everything!)   - where can I collect my medal?

Monday morning sunrise

This morning saw an easy stress free school run (maybe my mood had rubbed off on the boys!?)  and I went off to my Zumba class - a great way to start the week!

If it makes you feel better though,   just when I was worried that I had actually turned into my Mother, I realised that I'd left my wet towels on the floor after my shower so I've still got a way to go!


R2BC at Mummy from the Heart




Monday, 14 November 2016

Our Ochi Day

October 28th is a national holiday in Cyprus, known as 'Ochi Day'

A little bit of history for you... (thanks to Fatcatz Mobilty)
The word ‘Ochi’ simply means ‘No’. It is the word Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas used in 1940 to Mussolini’s spokesperson when asked if Axis forces could use Greek territory to gain access to areas of Europe not already occupied by Hitler and Mussolini. Metaxas stalwartly said ‘No!’
Prime Minister Metaxas had deliberately done his best to keep Greece neutral in the early months of World War II, but the ultimatum tipped any chance of allegiance and Greece became allied with Great Britain.
Prior to this, Metaxas may have decided to go either way. Personally, he had links with Germany based on his early education. He had also resisted Greece becoming involved with World War I and had refused to support the Allies in the Dardanelles Campaign.
The ultimatum changed everything and Greece turned out to be a strong force against the Germans and Italians, facilitating the Allies’ regaining of Albania.
Cities and towns across Cyprus and Greece celebrate Ochi Day with military parades that close down most centres. In Nicosia, Cyprus, school students and veterans march in a parade and carry banners and the flags of Cyprus and Greece. Political speeches are made and the day is focused on celebrating the heroes of the nation.
Cyprus particularly considers the day as one to not only remember the bravery of the people who walked in the past, but to focus on the future and to believe that their people can have strong and independent freedom and prosperity.


As the schools are closed on the day itself they hold their celebrations the day before.  As usual I had no idea what was being said in the school play,  but Leo really enjoys taking part in them and it means a lot to him when he sees us in the audience.


On the day itself I took the boys to see the parade in our local village for the first time,  despite being here for 7 years (and hearing them practise for weeks every year!) for various reasons we'd never got round to going to watch it.





As the boys celebrate each year in school with plays and making Greek flags it was nice for them to see the parade too,  also being as it is a fairly small village they got to see plenty of people they knew, either marching or watching them go by.


 (Video courtesy of 'My Journal on Cyprus') 

The weather was still nice so I thought we'd make the most of the holiday day and head down to the beach for a while, as the summer season was about to come to an end we took the last opportunity to visit the tourist shops in Protaras and the boys spent their pocket money on some random plastic noisy toys. (angry birds spinning tops to be precise - rubbish but they loved them!) 

The beach was quiet but there were several people in the sea,  my boys were wave jumping but it was too cold for them to want to go in properly,   I must admit I was laughing my head off at Leo's screams when I threw multiple buckets of water over him to wash off the sand after we'd buried him! 



Even getting off the beach went well,  as we ducked into a nearby hotel and rinsed the sand off in the shower by the pool. The boys were also amazed to see the hotels fish and we stood watching them for ages.


When we all started to get hungry I decided that as the day was going so well I'd treat us to lunch at our favourite restaurant. I'd never normally bother take them on my own, without Aaron or friends but I was feeling optimistic! 

It was a good call,  the restaurant was rammed with people but we got a seat and I spent a good hour or so catching up with work on my phone while the boys played on the huge bouncy castle.   The food arrived, and they cleared their plates while we actually had an enjoyable conversation rather than a mealtime battle!





















It went so well that we even ended up with ice cream before we left,  to come home for baths, pyjamas and a family film.  A slightly unexpected but pretty much a perfect day, it doesn't happen very often but as they are getting older it's starting to get easier to have days like this.    I told them both as they went to bed how pleased I was that they had been so good,    Leo told me it was the best 'Ochi day' ever and he couldn't wait for next year! 

Ironically I hardly had to say 'No' all day!

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