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!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Now you are two {Loukas}

Happy Birthday Louka mou,

Today you are two years old!  I'm not sure if you really understand what your birthday means but I know every time it's been mentioned you say 'party?'  which is closely followed by 'cake?'so  I can assure you we will indeed be having a party today and there will definitely be cake.

You are a real little character now, with an ever increasing vocabulary. We can understand lots of what you say now, and Leo is even better at working out what you'd like than we are.

Speaking of 'your Leo' we are all pleased you have finally started calling him by the right name.  It's been a mystery to us all why you've insisted on calling him 'Mordy' for so long. As entertaining as it was it drove Leo crazy and left us all wondering why you refused to even try and say 'Leo' when you attempt to say pretty much anything else!

You are just on the verge of putting all your words together to make sentences now and it amuses me to hear you chatting away so earnestly to everyone, especially Leo and your best friend Jaxon.

You love to dance, and mirror Leo in all his favourite songs - the current favourite being Elvis' 'Burning Love' and you can be heard all day running around singing 'hunka hunka' from it.

You love to play with Leo, and most of the time you get on very well. Playing 'Kirby' on the wii is a loved pastime of yours, and now we finally let you have batteries in your wii remote, you have surprised us in actually being able to play it too!

A lot of your favourite things are inspired by your big brother as along with the usual likes of a toddler such as Thomas, Bob and Barney, you love the Superheros, - 'Batbat' (Batman) and 'Hunk' (Hulk)  to name just a couple!   Following on again from Leo, Power Rangers are also featuring now - but as we keep trying to explain - 'Samurai' is NOT and answer to something you don't wish to do!!

Sleeping and eating are still not things you like to do that much of,  although yogurt, raisins, and bananas are always a winner!  You are now in a 'big boy bed'   which seems to be a small improvement but so far you've only managed one complete night's sleep in your life - lets hope you get the idea sometime soon little fella..... please?

Every night you take your favourite cuddly toys to bed - Mickey (mouse) and 'orse  despite us pointing out that he is called Eeyore and he is in fact a donkey not a horse you will not be convinced!

Swimming is pretty much a daily activity at the moment, and luckily you love it,   running to get your towel and shorts as soon as it's mentioned, you stand at the door saying 'Swim?  yes? go go' Luckily you are happy to wear your armbands and you happily splash about, jumping in, and falling off the lilo. I think you'll be swimming like a fish next summer!

I hope you have a very happy 2nd birthday little man, and a wonderful year ahead,

Lots of love and squishy cuddles,
Mama xxx

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The one with the poem

We don't usually 'do' cards in this house, so this morning I posted this to Aaron's facebook page.  I was however surprised (and  hugely outdone!)  by his lovely offering...... not just a photo but he'd gone much further than 'googling' a quote, he's written his own poem to mirror his wedding speech from 10 years ago....

It’s been 10 years now that you have been my wife
and that is about a quarter of my life
that we have spent together in wedded bliss
even if at times it’s been hit and miss

So 10 years ago I did my speech in rhyme
and it seemed appropriate at this time
that I should do another to honour an era
in which some of our dreams have got nearer and nearer

We've had 2 great kids and moved far away
although we have done these things in our own special way 
are we as happy today as the day we were wed
the answer is yes if the truth be said

So even after 10 long years 
of sharing all our hopes and fears
all that remains for me to say
is I love you more today than yesterday 

Happy Anniversary!

I love it,  and so much better than a card!

Friday, 18 July 2014

Schools out for Summer

As we are already 6 weeks into the summer holidays this post is a little late but we've been busy with an unexpected visitor, birthdays and plently of swimming!

The schools in Cyprus break up mid June and the long holiday runs until the second week of September.   This September Leo will start his compulsory year of Prodimodiki (pre-primary school), he will be in the same school as the last two years although possibly in a different class as he completed one year of kindergarten there and an optional year of Prodimodiki already.

Leo has done well at school this year, improving on his Greek and coping with the change of class and teacher with no problems. As the only child with two English parents (and therefore having no real exposure to the Greek language out of school) I think he's done pretty well mixing with the rest of the class, there are just a couple of other children who speak English as well as Greek in his class but he plays with most of the other switching between the languages without much problem.

At the start of the year he became best of friends with a boy called Alex (English Mum, Cypriot father) and they have been inseparable all year.  Every day at home time they would run together to the end of the road and back, causing his Mum and I to stand there for ages trying to coax them into the car!

Unfortunately Alex is slightly older and therefore will be moving to the next school this September meaning Leo was devastated to be losing his best friend, I'd never seen him so upset as he was at the end of term and there be nothing I could do about it.

Leo ended the year with a fantastic performance in his school play with Alex as a clown (a great bit of casting for the terrible twosome!) and enjoyed a final week of fun and games, including a trip to the local fire station and soft play centre.

The last day of term was a party day, all the children took food - sweets, cakes, biscuits and crisps and had a fun morning of games and dancing.  I loved the excitement in the air at home time (could have just been all the sugar!) when they all came out clutching bags of work and paintings along with presents from the teacher and a certificate.

Leo is now loving the school holidays and saying he doesn't like school and wants to stay on holiday forever but we have a few more weeks of freedom before having to reign him in again for the start of the next school year.   Luckily here in Cyprus summer doesn't end when school starts, and we'll have plenty more beach and pool afternoons left before the season ends!

Linking up to Flashback Friday

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

'Half Syn' Roulade - Slimming World Cake

Yes, you did read that right it's a 'half a syn' cake, and not only that, its really nice!

Over the years of Slimming World I've tried many different dessert recipies and I've always been hard pushed to find a good one.   I find they are either not that nice, or not worth the effort or the syns but since trying this at a taster session in the group I attend I've finally found the answer!

I'd put off making it for years, thinking it would be difficult but I've made it several times now and it's always turned out fine!

  • 4 medium eggs, seperated
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • Fat free Greek yoghurt
  • 3 tbsp of sweetener (level not heaped)
  • Raspberries (or any other Syn free fruit)
  1. Add yoghurt, sweetener, vanilla essence & baking powder to the egg yolks
  2. Whisk until creamy and put to one side
  3. Take the egg whites and whisk until stiff
  4. Add half of the egg whites to the egg yolk mixture and stir in gently
  5. Then fold the other half of the eggs whites into the mixture
  6. Take an oven tray, line line with grease proof paper and spray with plenty of fry light to avoid the cake sticking to the paper
  7. Pour the mixture on the tray/paper
  8. Bake for 10 minutes until golden brown 180c (it doesn't take very long to bake so keep an eye on it)
  9. Whilst warm gently peel the paper from the cake and then leave to cool
  10. Once cooled, use a big knife to gently remove the cake from paper
  11. While cooling take the remainder of the yoghurt and add sweetener to taste
  12. Spread the yoghurt onto the (now cooled) cake and add whichever fruit you are using
  13. Then gently roll the cake up into a roll (like a swiss roll)
  14. Cut into 4-6 pieces - or eat the whole cake yourself for just ½ a Syn!
Easy Slimming world cake

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Messing about with 'Gloop'

It appears I've accidentally scared my children and given them a dislike of being messy, although you'd never believe it if you saw the state of my floor most days!

Although it was never my intention, messy play has never been something that I consider fun and as I realized the boys may be starting to agree with me I decided to get over myself and re-do an activity (one that was messy, but also fairly easy to clean up!)  that I first did with Leo almost three years ago

It didn't go brilliantly all those years ago but I thought it would be different this time, and it was just not at first!

Cornflour and water mixed together becomes a non-newtonian liquid - in other words a liquid which acts like a solid when you hit it. 

Cornflour gloop (a much better name for it when you are one or five!)  is so easy to make, in fact I didn't even make it. I measured the flour into two tubs and added a little colouring to the water and handed over to the boys. 

You need: two cups of cornflour and one cup of water coloured with a little food colouring. I split mine into two and added a different colour to each.

Louka looked on with interest as Leo asked if he could put his hand in the flour, probably not the first question a child should ask when presented with a messy activity.

He then immediately wanted to wash his hands!   Why is he not that bothered when making a cake or eating his dinner?!

They eventually got into it, pouring the coloured water in and mixing the gloop together with their hands. Louka was unsure at first but was laughing at Leo and saying 'yucks'

Leo wasn't entirely enthusiastic and didn't really like the feel of it as it run through his hands but was very interested in it and enjoyed watching me do it, which was kind of missing the point but kept him happy! He did however enjoy putting it all up my legs which I smiled at through gritted teeth so as not to put him off!  

Eventually the colours got mixed together with Leo guessing correctly that it would turn purple, and Louka excitedly shouting 'urple' as it changed.

Leo soon got bored and wandered away but with the addition of a small spatula and toy frying pan Louka sat there scooping and pouring for ages. It was fascinating to watch him with such a serious look on his face.

All in all, it was a success and I'll certainly be on the look out for more ideas, especially while it's still warm and we can do them outside wearing minimal clothing!

Monday, 7 July 2014

Personalised in Cyprus - product review

Leo's party theme this year was the subject of much debate between him and I, originally going to be 'Superheroes' and then eventually (after a quick peek on pinterest!) became Lego. 

With a bit of teamwork going on, Aaron and I came up with a brilliant Lego Party for him and he enjoyed every second of it, playing with his friends and receiving some lovely presents. 

One of his favourties was his very own 'Leo / Lego' superhero t-shirt from Personalised in Cyprus 

Like on the invitations Aaron made using the Lego font for his name and featuring one of his favourite superheroes, it was always going to be a winner with him.  Leo is most impressed that Leo is Lego without the G!

We were already fans of Personalised in Cyprus since receiving two of their products for review by the Famagusta Parents Network and it was the first place I thought of for presents from the boys and I for my Dad when Father's Day and his birthday approached.

A metal 'dogtag' keyring, with a message from the boys on the back, and a drinks coaster went down a treat with my scrabble loving Dad.

Each time I've used Personalised in Cyprus, I've found them to be helpful (especially as I never know what I actually want!) and the turn around on the products is very fast, not that means you should wait until 2 days before you need them of course when you were aware of the event coming up for weeks  *ahem*

Personlised in Cyprus are located in Pernera, but will deliver island wide via AKIS express
They sell a huge range of products from mugs, to mousemats, drinks bottles, iphone covers, money boxes, cushion covers, bags and loads more,  in fact they can print pretty much anything on anything!

You can find Personalised in Cyprus on facebook 

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