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!

Sunday, 13 November 2016

My Sunday Photo - 13th November

Ayia Napa Cyprus beach

This is Glyki Nero beach in Agia Napa,  taken on Friday at about 8am.  

Not bad for a November morning!

I had taken the boys to school and I was on my way to my first Zumba class.  As Leo starts school at 7;45am  and zumba starts at 8:30am  it wasn't worth going home so I took the scenic route down to Agia Napa.   I saw the turning for this beach,  and having never been to it before I swung the car down for a quick look.

I love this time of year, the beach was almost empty,  just a few people walking, a couple of people doing yoga and a few (possibly crazy) people swimming.  

And if you were wondering,  I loved zumba and I'm going back tomorrow!

Monday, 7 November 2016

Listography - My top 5 blog posts

Back in the 'good old days' of blogging one of my favourite 'linky's' was Listography over at 'Kate Takes 5',   so I was excited to see that Kate has brought it back for a one off to celebrate her 6 year blog anniversary.

It's a real blast from the past in more ways than one as we are sharing our top five blog posts of all time.  The first one was easy for me as it's always been my favourite post,  it's only a short one as it was from the real early days, and as you can tell if you read it, the days when I was at home all day with a baby!

One day.... 
I've often thought about updating this,  to reflect the fact that one day I won't be saying 'please stop fighting,  please put your pants on,  get off your brothers head and so on,    maybe I will if I get to stop asking the boys the same question repeatedly long enough to write it!

The other four posts didn't come to me as easily but it did give me a lot of enjoyment looking back over old posts to find them and reminded me why I loved blogging so much.

A blog of Christmas Past....
My favourite posts are generally the flashback style ones,  I love that through my blog I've been able to document not just the current events of our life but to go back and find old photos and share the memories attached to them.    This post was all about my childhood Christmases and it's one I tend to share every year since!

A letter to my 16 year old self...
A different kind of flashback but one where I think back to the 16 year old me and what I would tell her if I could.

The best weekends in the world...
Another 'flashback' post but a reminder of the best weekends we ever had,   good friends, bucket loads of booze, dancing and memorable moments.   It's a short post as I decided not to share all the moments that made it so good (public viewing and all that!)  but Aaron and I often retell the stories after a couple of drinks!

Me and my boy....
Another very short post (I was surprised at how short most of my posts were, maybe that was why I wrote so many!)  but another heartfelt one.  I wrote this the night before I went into hospital to be induced with Louka. It had just hit me how there was suddenly going to be a 'new' person around who I didn't know and how it was going to change things.  

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Winter is on the way.

On the evening of Monday 31st October, Aaron and I sat outside until late,  it was a little chilly but nothing that a pair of socks and a fleece couldn't solve.   

During the night I woke up to a distant rumble of thunder and ran outside to gather all the chair cushions.   I went straight back to sleep only to vaguely wake a little later to the sound of rain,  that rain turned into a massive storm.   I slept through it but it did cause quite a bit of chaos across the island. 

However when my alarm went off I got up to this amazing sky.

Since that night the weather has changed,  even though the days have been sunny there has been a noticeable temperature drop.

Our duvets are out, the slippers and dressing gowns have reappeared and the boys are now insisting on long sleeves and trousers for school.

The days are still lovely, if you are in the sun.  Stand in the shade and it feels quite chilly now.

I know most people love this but after a week I'm going off it already at the thought of having to get the heaters out in the next few weeks.   I would much rather be 'too hot' than be a little bit cold!

Saying that I'm quite looking forward going out a bit more without suncream and blazing hot sunshine to worry about.

Winter is on it's way!

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

See you later Mr G...

You may remember that last year I went to Sirena Bay in Agia Triada after many years of never getting round to it.This year I finally got to go 'kid free' and enjoy it in a much more chilled out way!

Our good friends Natalie and G AKA local rock and blues duo, Echo had their final performance at the venue they had spent so many years playing at,  and one that was very close to their hearts so it was a big night for them. This summer has been their last season together in Cyprus as today Mr G leaves to move back to England and I'm really sad to see him go and to know that Echo is no more.

Apart from seeing them at Daxifest (where we were working) we knew it would be the last time we would get to see them play as due to us working again we wouldn't be able to make their last ever performance in Cyprus.

It was a brilliant evening, which ended up with drinking vodka and dancing under the stars followed by Aaron and I gatecrashing G and Tony's dinner.

Who'd have thought that I'd ever actually look at someone playing a guitar and realise that they are bloody awesome, even if I never really knew half of the songs they do!

Of course I'll always be a cheesy pop lover at heart, and I'll never make a convincing rock chick but I've really enjoyed a few nights out over the years listening to them play 'proper music'  and pretending I'm cool for a few hours!

A Farewell to Echo from Premier Pro Productions on Vimeo.

Mr G, it's been great,  we're going to miss you and hope to see you back one day.
I'm gutted that you're going and will miss bumping into you in Lidl (I've never seen the same person in there more than once other than you)   and I'm going to just have to keep training Leo up to be my Doctor Who buddy now,  you are still the only person in two years to pick up the fez at the photo booth, and announce that they are cool.

Image credit: Klik Photo Booth

I'm glad we got the chance to finally share a bottle of tequila and the fact that we didn't say goodbye (cos I don't like goodbyes... its' always 'see you later' )...... also I've just realised that I've still got your juicer so you'll have to come back and make more margaritas sometime!

Cheers G!

Wedding Wednesdays

Ever since I was a little girl I have loved anything and everything to do with weddings.  My earliest wedding memories would be from THE royal wedding of the decade,  Prince Charles and Lady Di,  I'm not sure I remember much from the day (I have photos of my Mum and I at a street party but don't actually remember it!)  but we videoed the wedding and I watched it several times afterwards.

I remember seeing a wedding car in the road behind my house and I sat at my bedroom window peeking through the net curtains for ages hoping for a glimpse of the Bride leaving!

There were very few weddings that I got to go to, at least that I was old enough to remember, by the time I got married myself in 2003 I think I'd been to a grand total of 5.

So how impressed would my younger self have been if I could tell her what we would end up doing one day and the fact that I am lucky to be a small part of so many special days. Since we started our photo booth business in Cyprus I've been to almost 100 weddings in 2 years!

Of course the main wedding / tourist season has now ended  in Cyprus and photo booth bookings slow down for the winter but it does give me the chance to get back to where I stared, back to blogging and I thought why not combine my love of blogging,  Cyprus and weddings all at once.

Since spending so much time in the wedding groups on facebook,  following the plans and preparation of so many brides to be,  I found out that I still love wedding plans! It's so much more than just a job, and just a way to advertise our business.    Of course as you know I love the island of Cyprus and I've been writing about it on and off for many years now,   I can't imagine a more perfect place to get married now.

So with this in mind, over the winter I will give you my own take on Wedding Wednesdays, a chance for me to share wedding info, ideas and anything to do with getting married in Cyprus.

You can follow me on Instagram  or as Emsyjo or KlikPhotoCY on Twitter to see my posts with the #WeddingWednesday and #CyprusWedding hashtags.

Or pop over and follow the Klik Blog for all the posts direct.

Cyprus wedding, Wedding Wednesday

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Colour changing experiements

When they are not glued to their electronic devices the boys favourite thing to do at home are experiments.  While I do want to do things like this with them it is often a request that I sadly turn down quite frequently,  it makes the days of asking to get the paints out seem much less painful now!

The problem is to provide them with an 'experiment' I need to jump on pinterest or google to for ideas (seriously how did people 'parent' without them!)  and then I need to have the stuff at home to do it, the time and of course the will to sort out the aftermath.

We've had several failed experiments which usually end up with everyone in a bad mood, but every now and again we strike gold!

Our recent 'experiment' was deemed a success in the fact that the boys enjoyed it and it kept them amused for much longer than I expected,  and the clean up was minimal.   As for actual science learnt I'm not sure,  but hey - 'they' say kids learn through play don't they!

I provided them with bicarbonate of soda in a dish,  vinegar, and lemon juice in an ice cube tray each and added some food colouring for a more interesting effect.

They each had a plastic syringe and I let them get on with it...

bicarb soda experiment

They loved how it bubbled and fizzed,  and enjoyed seeing the difference between the vinegar and lemon juice.   Of course it didn't take too long for the powder to become saturated but surprisingly that is where the favourite bit started.

Abandoning the dishes of bicarb they turned their attention to the ice cube trays and did their own experiments in colour mixing.

I refilled the trays several times,  just using water now but still adding a tiny dash of colouring. Louka was busy getting as many different colours as he could but Leo was more interested in different shades of the same one.

I haven't seen the pair of them enjoy something at home so well together in ages,  in fact I'm wondering if it's even ever happened before,   there was no fighting, arguing and they were being so nice to each other, swapping colours and making new ones together.     If only it would have the same effect if we did it again!

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