Thursday, 19 October 2017

The big 40 birthday celebrations

As the clock struck midnight on 1st January 2017 I was standing on my balcony with Aaron, Mum & Dad and the boys. As we raised our glasses and wished each other a happy new year,  Aaron turned to me and said.... 'You do realise that you'll be 40 this year'

This set the tone for the following 10 months, and it spread - everyone, even the boys joined in (except my 39 year old friends that is,  I think they were sympathising with me, and realising it would be them very soon!)

I found it funny and not funny in equal measure, I opted for not caring realising it is stupid to be bothered by it after all, it would happen anyway and sulking about it would change anything.  (Actually I was kinda enjoying the fuss but ssshh don't tell anyone)  I decided that the more he went on about it, the more I would celebrate when the time came.

I was like a big kid leading up to my birthweek,   yes I had a birthday week, a whole week of celebrations and it was..... EPIC!   (sorry Aaron,  but there are times when only EPIC will do).

It all began with the arrival of my Care Bear, AKA Nic.   on the 10th October,  the day before my birthday.

Known for her crazy arrival outfits she went for a bit of nostalgia this time and dressed as one of my favourite children toys.   

Of course, we started as we meant to go on, and cracked open the wine as soon as we got home!

The day itself started with Bucks Fizz after the school run to accompany card and present opening,  before heading out to meet more friends for breakfast. 


Breakfast was amazing, as it always is at Mojitos, and it was even better this time, as it was accompanied by bubbles and cocktails!

Aaron of course was therefore on school pick up, as he was for most of the week while we were out and about.  The weather is still in summer mode here so we spent a couple of hours at the pool in the afternoon.

Mum and Dad came up in the afternoon for presents and cake,  I was very lucky with a new phone,  book, jewelry, bubble bath and shower gel and a new computer! 

Originally we had no plans for the evening as the big celebration would be the party on Saturday but as Nic pointed out it seemed a shame not to do anything so we left Aaron and the boys and walked up the road to our local for a meal.

It was a perfect day,  and the party was not over yet,  in fact it hadn't even started!

Part 2 coming up soon....

Monday, 9 October 2017

Here comes 40....

When I was a child I remember working out that I would turn 23 in the year 2000. It seemed such a long way off and I couldn't imagine being such an age, presumably all grown up and sensible.  I'm sure it's no surprise to anyone over the age of 20 that of course I wasn't all grown up and sensible at all,   when I reached that age I assumed that would come a bit later,   at 30 perhaps?

I approached my 30th birthday with excitement and a bit of trepidation, I had a big party planned which was the cause of the excitement but every now and again I would stop and think '30!!!' I had been married for 3 years but was working in a job that I didn't enjoy and always feeling that I should be doing something different,  always waiting for something, I just wasn't sure what.

I received a card from a friend (whose birthday is the day before mine) saying 'Inside every 30 year old is an 18 year old wondering what the hell happened!"  I remember smiling at it thinking it true but also thinking I bet the 40 year olds are wondering what happened to the 30 year old.   It seemed that as my friends were turning 30 they were freaking out a little but I kept telling myself that if I was  stressing about 30,  what would I be like at 40, or 50 and so on.

Actually in some ways 31 was worse... there were no big celebrations, and no one cared as much,  it seemed like the start of a downhill slope, plus I was pregnant and unable to party like I usually would!

Now at the time of writing, I am about to turn 40,   it's been a huge source of amusement to everyone around me from the moment we saw the new year in. It's amused and annoyed me in equal measure, and mainly I have been ignoring the jibes from hubby (who is 4 years older than me)

Yes,  every now and again I think wow,  40 sounds big,   but so did 30,  and 21, and 18,  although in a more exciting way.   But of course as someone once said, it's better to reach 40 than to not to,   age is a privilege denied to many, and while that is a depressing thought that I don't wish to linger on, it is very true and so I promised myself not to moan about it and appreciate it instead. and hopefully,  I'll be sat here in years to come wishing I was 40 once again!

When I turned 30 I couldn't have imagined what the next decade would bring,   a move to Cyprus, two lovely sons, and our own business among other things.   It's actually been my most enjoyable decade so far,   yeah, the 20's always seem like fun looking back but it was a mix of rubbish jobs,  too much drama and generally a bit messy!

So, I will celebrate, as I love to do,   and celebrate the start of my forties in style!

Monday, 11 September 2017

Back to School

It's back to school day today!

After almost 3 months of lazy days, lie ins and not much of a schedule to stick to it was time to set the alarm and get the boys out of bed again.  

It was a bit strange this morning,  it's actually the first year where I have to really use an alarm. They were always such early risers that it was never needed before,  always set but more as a back up in the unlikely event of us sleeping in.   Towards the end of the school year I did have to wake Leo a couple of days,  but it was mainly due to his reluctance to get moving than sleepiness. 

But for the first time, we have had a school holiday where the boys haven't been up at the crack of dawn,  in fact their average getting up time was between 8am and 9am.  Something I'd never have been able to imagine in the days of broken sleep and 5am starts.

Of course it's good but it meant I felt like I was getting up in the middle of the night when me alarm went off at 6:30 this morning.  Luckily it is light by then (and there is only a very short period of the year where it isn't light at that time) as that would make it so much harder,    I'm not sure I'd ever be able to drag myself out of bed in the UK these days!

It's been a long time since I took a photo like this,   and I couldn't resist this morning. 

It went surprisingly well, both the boys were happy enough.   Leo wasn't too impressed about having to wear socks but I can't say I blame him,   it's still too hot for me to be thinking about wearing them myself. 

Leo went happily into the 3rd grade,  unsure of where his classroom would be, or who is teacher is but happy enough to go in on his own and find his friends and wait to find out. 

Louka is doing his 2nd year of Prodimodiki (pre-primary) and has a new teacher and change of classroom.   He went in quite happily too, which I was pleased about but also a little surprised.    I hope he forgets that he 'doesn't talk to teachers'   and starts talking to people before it becomes a habit to be quiet again!

Of course,  Louka refused to stand for a picture, and Leo as always was more than happy to pose by the door.  I wasn't going to push it with Louka, trying to keep him in a good mood was the aim of the game.   I tried to get a sneaky shot as we left but he spotted the phone in my hand and turned round!

Friday, 25 August 2017

Now you are five.... {Loukas}

Happy Birthday Louka mou!

You are five years old!  I know you have been looking forward to this day for such a long time,   I think you were talking about it even before Leo's birthday this year!

I'm writing this post for you on the 24th,  and you've just gone to bed full of excitement that it is just one more sleep.  As I gave you a cuddle,  I said I was cuddling my 4 year old Louka for the last time, and you asked me if I was sad.   I replied,  of course not because tomorrow I can cuddle my 5 year old Louka, you gave me a big smile and said 'yes that's 'much more better'.

Every year when I write these birthday letters to you and your brother I try to think back over the year and how you've changed. It kind of sneaks up on me as it seems that when it happens it's a very sudden thing,  and I hadn't realised the little things that change along the way.

You are totally crazy,  I've said many times over the years that Leo is crazy but it seems you can take it to a whole new level! Your laugh is amazing, so infectious and I can't help but laugh whenever I hear you.   Your sense of humour is, in some ways like mine,   the way you laugh at people falling off the big red balls in Total Wipeout or falling over,   the funny faces you pull or dances to make us laugh are awesome too!.

You are still a stubborn little dude,  the noise (not sure how to write it but I hope I don't forget one day what it was, assuming that you eventually stop doing it.... hopefully!)  you make when something displeases you, or you don't want something drives me crazy as you can talk now but it still stems from the days you couldn't.

At home you are chatty, and now we have great conversations,  especially when you can get a word in sideways when Leo lets you,  but outside the house or with people you don't know that well you prefer to let your big brother do the talking.

You completed your first year of Prodimodiki  (pre-primary school) in June and even though you didn't like it much you got used to going and did so very well by the end of the term.  I hope you enjoy your next year at school,  and really hope you start speaking to your teacher and the other children,  it will make it so much more enjoyable for you once you get used it.

Leo is still (mostly) your best friend,  and when you are not moaning at each other you get on so brilliantly - it really is one extreme to the other.  Lots of cuddles,   'belly baffs' and 'bum drums' and the latest addition, the 'booty scooty'  usually all done just before bedtime which makes them less funny than they are during the day for me,  but I do love to see you both getting on so well, and being on the same wavelength.

It's still very hard to get a photo of you, you either refuse completely or insist on doing something crazy or standing behind Leo, I have so few photos of you on your own!

I asked you tonight if it had been fun being four and you said it was,  I asked you what your favourite thing of the year had been and you told me 'going to the swimming pool'   which may have been just because it was the most recent thing we did but we have been there a lot!

In fact I'd say your biggest achievement of the year is probably your swimming skills,   you can now officially swim,  no armbands, no swimfin,  no floats.    It happened so fast,  and literally overnight - one day you were swimming a few strokes and the next the whole length of the pool,  underwater and above!

I hope your birthday and party is everything you hoped it would be, and you have a fantastic day!

Love you!
Photo credit

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

What Klik did next....

In 2014 Aaron and I started our photo booth business, Klik Photo CY.   We started with one photo booth, a retro style enclosed photo booth  (enclosed -  as in an actual booth you go inside, rather than the 'open style booths' you see advertised that aren't actually booths!)  a few months later we took over an existing company 'Wedding Booth Cyprus' and added a marquee style booth to our portfolio.

I absolutely LOVE our work,  it's so much more than 'just a job' to us.  We take a huge amount of pride in our work, and always try to do the best we can.  Aaron of course is a total perfectionist so he has spent a lot of time making sure the prints the booth produces are studio quality, and every little detail is 110%.  As we always say,   if you are going to do something,  do it properly!

Last year Aaron (king of the random suggestions - remember 'Do you want to move to Cyprus? )   came home one day and said 'I've had an idea'.

Ahhh,  really?

"Yep,  what do you think about having a photo booth in a limousine?"

He got *that* look,   the same one he got when he randomly suggested just packing up everything and going to Cyprus.

Unlike the  moving to Cyprus idea (which was quite a sudden decision!)  we talked about the Limo Booth as it became known, for more than 6 months, planned and talked, and planned some more.

Then eventually this happened.....

Now of course it didn't just 'happen',  Aaron spent the whole winter refurbishing the car, getting it resprayed, fitting the photo booth electrics inside, and reupholstering the entire thing, not to mention spending weeks sorting out the lighting, and camera settings and hundreds of test shots!

Getting ready for her respray

Lots of polish!

One of the initial test shots!

At times it felt like we'd never actually get her finished but we did in time for the start of the season,

Of course we had to test it fully, including the 'in-car-aoke'...

After several test events,  to make sure all was running smoothly, we did our first wedding...

The Limo Booth went down a storm, everyone absolutely loved it!

It great to see her finally in action after all those months of work!

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Interview with my 8 year old

Five years ago I started interviewing Leo just after his birthday with a set of questions I found online. Every year since I have repeated the interview with the same questions.

It's lovely to look back over the years and see what changes,   or stays the same!

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Excuses on how I missed a whole month!

For the first time in almost 8 years I have gone a whole month without a single blog post!

I was actually a bit annoyed when I noticed (I even considered quickly writing one and backdating it, but realised it was a bit pointless!) but decided to look at it another way and be proud of the fact that I've been blogging at all for so long, and I'm still here, just about anyway.

So,  what's been going on with us?

Lots and lots, and I'd love to blog about them all but I'd be here for weeks trying to catch up, and although I think an evening balcony blogging session is due I have been saying that for a long time.

Highlights it is then,

The school summer holidays started about 6 weeks ago, we are now just over the half way point. It's a long time but I do (kind of) like it, it's just a bit tricky attempting to balance everything but hey, I've got it easy compared to many so I'm not complaining*.
(*sometimes I may be complaining, but I do try not to!)

We've been to beaches,  the water-park, restaurants, bouncy castles, film festival, Ikea, the local watermelon festival,  the park, car show,  museums, swimming pools,  and our own (communal) pool more times than we've had hot dinners (that's possibly not event an exaggeration!)

We've rearranged our whole apartment, switched bedrooms, and are in the process of repainting the whole thing, we've worked at more than 20 weddings so far, and had our first wedding with our Photo Booth Limousine and I've also started to re brand my other website in a particularly random spot of timing!

We've all shared in Leo's achievement of getting his green tag at taekwondo, and wished him well as he's endured several dentist appointments.

We've played Lego video games, Kirby, and Mario Kart, and the latest addition Rayman.

We've had bbq's, drinks on the balcony, and evenings with friends.

We've read books, played games and watched more hours of DanTDM and Pat and Jen youtube videos that is probably sensible (ok, I tend not to do that,  Jen's voice drives me mad, but Dan has grown on me!)

There's probably more, it's been too long, and my mind has gone blank.

It's all good, summer is long, its hot and although I am kinda looking forward to 'real life' starting again in September I am enjoying the summer and for now we are getting by as best we can and trying our best to keep everyone happy and everything moving along.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Oranges and Lemons

Another one of those catch up / flashback posts from me today,  it's a bit random but another one where I started the draft months ago but only put the images into it.

Oranges and Lemons - no, not the song / game you probably know from childhood but the slightly random game I accidentally created one day in the park which is still going over two years later. As reluctantly played 'just one more round PLEASE' I thought to myself that it was actually quite a nice / easy / cheap way to keep the boys happy,  and it wouldn't be long before we'd never be doing stuff like this anymore - so I should blog about it before I forget all about it. 

This is our local park, 

It's a great park,  I'd say the best in the whole area,  it's certainly the biggest and has lots of paths to explore,  birds to see, examples of old water mills, a large bit of grass to play ball or run about on, and now a lovely cafe so you can grab a beer or a coffee while you're there.

It also has lots of orange and lemon trees, the boys like to collect them,  eat the oranges and pile me up with lemons and then ask me to make Lemon cake.

One day a few years ago I was in the park with just Leo. He was wearing his eye patch (to try and strengthen his bad eye)  and I was desperately trying to distract him from how much he hated it and make the time pass quickly for him.

I ended up hiding a handful of oranges and lemons in a small area and getting him to look for them. It went well, was quite fun and passed the time,  I went home thinking not much of it.

Since then every time we go to the park on our own I get asked to play, if we are meeting friends then they usually end up playing it instead!

Sometimes I'd get the boys to play by themselves, and I'd take the chance to sit for 10 minutes or so while they take turns hiding and hunting the fruit,  but I don't mind playing that much and quite enjoy coming up with new and difficult hiding places for them!

Monday, 19 June 2017

Our day out in Larnaca

This is an unintentional flashback post as it is all about a day out almost exactly a year ago!  I was full of good intentions as ever and even started the post not long after, but only got as far as uploading the images. 

Anyway,  I think it was not long after the children finished school for the summer, and in hindsight it wasn't the best time of year for such a day out, it was far too hot to really enjoy it all especially our planned picnic in the park.  

I'd wanted to go to Larnaca Fort for years, I've driven past it many times and almost visited it on several occasions but for various reasons we'd never got round to it.  I always assumed it wouldn't hold the boys attention for long and so it was just one of those 'one day' things. 

So I rounded up my friend Sam and her kids,  always a winner as they all love being together and announced we were going on a road trip!

Entry to the fort was very low,  I think maybe only €1 and was free for the two little ones who were both 3 at the time,  you can't get much better than that  and you wouldn't want to pay any more really as it doesn't take that long to walk round.

It was nice to see the views from the top, and take my own versions of photos I've been seeing for years online.  Leo was fascinated by the view and stood pretending there were invaders approaching, shouting instructions at the others to hold them back!

Louka not looking very impressed - although it turned out he was a bit poorly!

We were only at the fort an hour or so,  but they enjoyed it. Mainly exploring the courtyard and the views from the top rather than the mini museum but I'd say that's quite expected for kids.

The plan was to then head to the Larnaca Municipal Gardens,  I took a couple of wrong turns on the way and we did a few circuits of the one way system, much to the boys disgust and moans of how long it would take, and why are we going this way again Mum?

But we got there, abandoned the car in a space we hoped was OK - parking is so much easier where we live than Larnaca!

Heading straight for the shade to sort out the picnic as it was roasting hot, we let the kids run off to the play area, only to have them come straight back as all the equipment was too hot to touch.

Huddled together in the limited shade we ate our picnic and then discovered a zip line,  it was decided that was worth braving the heat for while everyone had a go, including Sam.  I did have videos somewhere, I'll have to add them in when I find them!

I noticed a building in the centre of the park which we were surprised to discover was a Natural History Museum.   I had very low expectations of it, knowing what places can be like in Cyprus, and assuming if it was any good I'd have heard of it but when we discovered it was 50c to get in we thought it was worth a look.

And it was,  It's not a huge place but it is crammed full of things to look at,   and had the best and most welcome air conditioning we'd ever found - as we stood under one of the a/c units we said that it was the best 50c we'd ever spent!

Suitably cooled, we ventured back into the park for a bit before heading to our final treat of the day, we went to Fun Factory for the first time, and they all had a great time playing - this time inside, in the air conditioning with loads of cool water to drink.

It was a long day, but enjoyed by everyone,   it must be time to sort out another road trip to some new places by now!

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Doctor Who Party - Fun and Games

I loved preparing for Leo's Doctor Who party, and soon enough it was time for the party itself.  I'd been looking forward to it as much as Leo as it was going to be a small party.just his two best friends plus little brothers and seven adults - that's pretty good odds for a kids party,  it's nice not to be outnumbered by children! 

As only my boys knew anything about Doctor Who - I thought I should explain a bit about who the Doctor is and I created a little story to take us through the games I had planned. 

I gathered the kids together and sat them down to begin...

The Doctor is a Timelord, an alien with 2 hearts from the planet Gallifrey.  He travels through space and time in his blue box - the TARDIS (which is bigger on the inside) and his only weapon is his sonic screwdriver which can save the world in many different ways, except it doesn't work on wood,   oh and he sometimes has a spoon!

As a Timelord he can regenerate when he needs to and completely changes his look and character. Today, possibly due to the importance of Leo's 8th birthday there has been a shift in time and the Doctor is undergoing his latest regeneration,  as he recovers he will need your help defeating some aliens and repairing the time stream, otherwise you will find yourselves transported back through time to become babies again, eating mush, wearing nappies and demanding to be called 'Stormageddon, Dark Lord of All' 

It was time for the first game...

Plasmavore Picnic

I explained how the Plasmavores are a race of aliens who look like humans and use straws to suck the salt  from their prey (I thought it nicer than saying they suck blood from humans, due the to two 4 year olds!)   In this game they had to hide from the Plasmavores by sucking up the energy spheres (mini smarties)  and and making them believe they are one of them.  

The Strands of Time

'We need your help to protect the strands of time'   While the Doctor stabilizes the Time Vortex you must try to protect the strands from breaking. 

You must find a partner and try to keep your strand intact for the duration of the music, the pair with the longest strand at the end are the winners.

Each pair takes a single piece of uncooked spaghetti, holding in their mouth they must sway to the music without breaking it, if it breaks they start again with the same piece.

Don't Blink (aka 'Red Light, Green light' ) 

The Weeping Angels are back, but you can defeat them! 
Creep towards the angel without being seen and get close enough to touch them. Move towards them when they look away and freeze as they turn around.  If they see you moving you are turned to stone and out of the round. The player who touches the angel, becomes the next angel. 

They loved this!   I started off the game by being the angel but after the first round they took over and played between themselves for ages,    while I snuck off and got myself a drink!

Cyberman Says (aka 'Simon Says') 

I'm sure this needs no explanation, if it does then you're best off just googling it!

Pin The Face on Cassandra

Cassandra is the last human from billions of years into the future, she no longer has a body and has to be constantly moisturized to stay alive.  The shift in time has damaged her and now she needs your help. 

Aaron made the 'Cassandra' from a roll of lining paper and I gave the kids a piece of paper each to draw their own faces for her. 

Mystical Magic

The Doctor found some unknown objects on a distant planet but has not been able to work out what they are yet.  Using the Lemonite Dissipater and Silteen Supresser you need to carefully investigat these mysterious orbs and find our their secrets. 

Using an idea from Tiny Acorns Creativity I used bicarbonate of soda mixed with a little water to create this game.   Hidden inside each ball was a tiny Pokemon figure.   The kids used lemon juice and white vinegar to dissolve the balls and discover the hidden objects.   It was quite messy but they loved it,  and were full of excitement as they realised they were Pokemon. 

Spinning Through Time

The TARDIS is malfunctioning and spinning madly through time and space.  As you take the parcel you must turn in a full circle before passing it to the next person. When the music stops, unwrap one layer and pass it on. 

Again,  no explanation needed - it was pass the parcel with a twist!

The games were spread out over a few hours,  and we stopped mid way through for food.   Once we had finished them all I ended with the conclusion to the story. 

When the Doctor regenerates his new look is always a surprise to him.  This time he seems to have taken on an unusual appearance,  maybe he's trying to tell himself something?  Maybe it's to do with the strange orbs he found?   Maybe it's because it's Leo's birthday?

He's still not ginger, he has legs (although a little shorter than usual) and he's not a girl.

I can show you a rare picture of him....

He is now Doctor Chu!

Leo roared with laughter as I gave him the picture,  and it went down very well!

For me the highlight had to be the TARDIS,  the kids loved going inside and pretending to be landing on different worlds but the best bit was when we made it come alive!   Watch till the end of the video below to see their reactions.

I put the party bags inside, while the kids were not looking and hid behind with my mobile phone playing the TARDIS landing noise.   It didn't take them long to work out what was happening but they loved it!.  

You can read more about the party in my previous post - Doctor Who Party - Preparations, Decorations and Food. 

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