Wednesday, 18 November 2015

The Christmas List and the Argos Catalogue

As a child the most important part of the run up to Christmas was the writing of The List. It required a great deal of thought especially as I got older and realised it was not so much of a shopping list and rather a few ideas for Santa and Mum and Dad to select from.

The Argos catalogue played a large part in the compiling of the list, I would spend hours pouring over the 'book of dreams' and one year my Mum gave me an old copy to cut out pictures to make a Christmas collage of things that I liked (in what I now realise was a great way of passing the time and keeping me quiet!)   One year I presented my carefully constructed list to Mum - an list filling a whole A4 page, I'd basically copied out the book!  I think I'd listed every annual in there along with more toys than I could have fitted into my bedroom!    With amusement Mum asked me what my favourite things were, and if I could maybe narrow it down a little!

Then of course there were the adverts, amazing toys that you just HAD to have. They all looked so good and we didn't realised that they were never the same in real life.

Care Bears, My Little Pony, Popples, Sindy and Barbie, we fell for all the marketing and I wished for it all!

I recently found some vintage Argos catalogue pages online, they are an amazing snapshot of time gone by, the products, the pictures and fashions seem hard to believe now. I was also shocked at the prices, I would have assumed the toys would have been much cheaper in compassion to today's prices.
You can actually view the entire 1985 catalogue online  - Vintage Argos Catalogue

Argos catalogue 1980s

It's a little different for my boys, they don't see English adverts and we don't have an Argos book. They don't go to the shops and they are not bombarded with advertising.  They have only this year been to a toy shop (one which tends to mainly be full of over priced plastic tat rather than brands we know and love)  so they don't really know what there is to want!

This is generally refreshing, and it means that they are not continually demanding expensive toys but it does make buying presents more of a problem!  I spent hours online last night looking for inspiration, and usually being thwarted by stupidly high postage charges to Cyprus, or just them refusing to deliver at all, but in the end I eventually solved the problem with one big Amazon order (total postage £18 which was a result)  and a couple of ebay bargains, so in fact I think I may still be better off - no need to walk the high street and be tempted by Argos, Toys R Us etc.   Now I all have to do is maybe make a few subtle suggestions when they write their letters to Santa!

As for me, of course I don't write a list anymore,  I did for many years even after leaving home, I've always been a big kid at Christmas time and loved the surprise so I always wrote several things down for my Mum to choose from, ensuring I would still have a surprise.  Now I struggle to come up with even a few suggestions much to Mums frustration!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Chasing shadows and Sunday afternoon fun.

Last Sunday, as Aaron was busy getting his latest tattoo I decided to take the boys out for a while. It was a lovely day as this time of year usually is, sunny and warm but without the intense heat of the summer so I decided to take us all down to the harbour in Agia Napa.

It's been a long time since I took both on my own to the harbour, in fact I only did it once and that day has stayed with me ever since. I had packed up some food and thought it would be nice to take 3 year old Leo and a baby Loukas for a late afternoon walk and a picnic dinner.   In fact it was a complete stressful waste of time with Louka screaming the whole time, Leo moaning and refusing to eat a thing and generally not fun for any of us.    I remember watching the Party Boat sailing out of the harbour packed full with music blaring and I imagined diving into to the water and swimming after it into the sunset!

But, we are several years on, without buggy and everyone can walk and while it was not entirely free of complaints they were only from Louka and one of those was a tired tantrum based on the fact that his shadow kept following him!   Leo had been racing around laughing and chasing his shadow and Louka got upset as he couldn't keep up, he then told me he didn't like his shadow and when I 'wouldn't' get rid of it he laid down on the floor and cried - what passers by must have thought of me I don't know as one child ran around like a crazy person and I couldn't help but laugh at the other who was screaming!

Nevertheless, it was a lovely afternoon, the harbour was peaceful now the summer season has come to an end but most of the bars and shops were still open.  The weather was glorious and I stopped to appreciate just how lucky we are to live here.

We had a lazy picnic of treats from the bakery (which of course there were no complaints about eating!) and a walk around looking at the boats and watching the fishes.

A walk never lasts long before the boys want to find somewhere to play because 'walking is boring' apparently.  So we stopped at the small play area where it didn't take long for Leo to start talking to girl and her little brother, it amused me as he first spoke to her in Greek only to be met with a blank stare ( I could have told him she was English as her and her parents were all wearing shorts and vest tops - very unlikely attire for a Cypriot in November when even I was wearing jeans and a cardie!)   he quickly changed back to English and they were soon playing happily together.

After a while the other children left and Leo came over and said 'ah friends come and go don't they' which I thought was sweet. He's getting used to the idea that many children that he meets in playgrounds or swimming pools don't actually live here and he won't see them again.

After a little walk around the shops on the look out as always for cool hats or funny things to use in the photo booth as props we stopped at Dolfins Luna Park where I let the boys have some tokens to use on the rides.  Even that went surprisingly well as Leo chose the karts which Louka was too small for, especially with a broken arm and he went on a ride without Leo for the first time.

They love the little train here, and so do I as it's great value when you have more than one child on it as it costs the same regardless. I'm sure soon there will be some arguments though as so far its never occured to Louka that he might like to sit in the drivers seat!

We had a game of table hockey and Leo was brilliant, letting Louka score a goal when he started to get upset that he was losing.  Unfortunately for Leo he then accidentally let a few in meaning it was actually quite tense as to who would win!  It the end it was 10 - 9 to Leo, and Louka cried, a lot at losing until Leo (who was on top form that day) distracted him with a statue of Sonic the Hedgehog!

All in all, it was a very successful and enjoyable afternoon. I realised that we'd not been down there for probably 6 months, not since the summer started. I enjoy it a lot more out of season when we get it back almost to ourselves!

Thursday, 5 November 2015

3 Days of Halloween... Part 2 - The Weekend!

After celebrating Halloween a day early with our party and trick or treating at home on Friday, we spent the weekend at what is probably the best family Halloween event in Cyprus.

Cyherbia has been running Halloween events now for several years, each with a different theme and attracts families from all over the island for the spooky fun and games. 

This year, they had Dr Frankinsect in her laboratory who needed the children to help her find the magic formula hidden in the maze to shrink all the creepy crawlies back to normal size. 

Dr Frankinsect AKA Tiny Acorns Creativity

For the older kids there was a CSI type game in the 'Freaky Forrest' where they could enjoy solving some unfortunate murders.  

There was also apple bobbing, broomstick racing, I-Spy in the Haunted Herb Garden, a lucky dip and face-painting and the Klik Photo Cy 'Kids Kiosk' Photo booth was also there with a spooky makeover offering keepsake photos of the day. 

Childrens photo booth Cyprus

As we were working with the photo booth, Mum and Dad took the boys on the Saturday, and Leo got to do it all over again on the Sunday with his friend.

Of course, they made a beeline for us and the booth, and enjoyed having a go as they don't usually get to see it in action even though they hear about it all the time. As we got busy though they were ushered off to the maze where they insisted on going round twice!

Being a big fan of experiments they made sure they were in time for one of Dr Frankinsect's demonstrations and also had a go at feeling some of the yucky things in the Lab.

I sneaked out of the photo booth to see one of the shows and it was really well done.  'Dr Frankinsect' was great with the kids and explained the story and what needed to be done to shrink the insects really well.  With her 'lab assistant' helping her and translating into Greek, everyone got the chance to understand what was happening. 

Back at the photo booth, we were having a great day,  I loved meeting loads of new people and seeing some of the fantastic costumes so many were wearing, it was great to see so many people had made the effort, not just children but adults as well. 

Of course, we had a selection of props for those who were not in costumes, or maybe wished to add to what they already had!  

We also had fun with the test prints too!

You can see all the photos from the weekend -on the Klik Photo CY facebook page.

It was a great weekend, for all involved,  and nice to be part of the team for the weekend!

For more info on Cyherbia Maze and Herb Gardens see their website -  and you can also find  Cyherbia on facebook

Dr Frankinsect AKA  Sam from Tiny Acorns  - check our their facebook page for loads of childrens craft ideas and as well as their party services available in the Famagusta / Larnaca region.

and for more info on photo booth hire for events across Cyprus you can find all you need to know from Klik Photo CY

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Three Days of Halloween... Day 1 - The Party

Halloween is now an official event in our family calendar, despite having never actually been to a Halloween party until 2010 its now something to be celebrated along with Christmas and Easter.  I love it, a chance to decorate and dress up and eat far too many sweets - what's not to enjoy!

Since the afternoon that accidentally turned into a party a couple of years ago, I have enjoyed planning a treat for the boys so once again this year we invited a couple of friends over for a mini Halloween party. Held a day early on the 30th as we were going to be working over the whole weekend it meant that the fun began for the boys as soon as they finished school.

Leo was very excited about it, and I was probably more excited than I should have been! As always, for me the part I actually enjoy the most is the lead up to the event, so I loved Friday morning, tidying up, decorating with Aaron and preparing some spooky food and treats.

Knowing the boys would be impatient for their friends to arrive I presented them with a scavenger hunt when they got home, an unplanned idea that occurred to me about 5 minutes beforehand!  On a bit of orange paper (see, keeping it to the colour scheme!)  I quickly jotted down a list of things to find among the decorations..

A hanging bat. 6 pumpkin faces, 2 glowing skeletons, 6 spiders and so on.

It was a surprising hit, and kept them both happy, and working together for ages. So much so that Leo played it again when his friends arrived, calling out the things to find for them.

With the spooky music in the background playing (gotta love a youtube playlist!) and the food laid out we all started to eat when everyone arrived, the kids are a great age and spend quite a lot of time off on the big balcony amusing themselves,  interrupted only occasionally by the little ones falling over or the big ones moaning about them!

We played a couple of games - Pin the Nose on the Pumpkin, and a favourite from last year - Hanging Doughnuts, which as it turns out is ridiculously difficult!

Of course the main event for the kids was the Trick or Treating, which I had planned with a few of the neighbours. I love the low key way we can do this here in Cyprus, and living in a small apartment complex, and we all trooped out to see what goodies we could find.

I had given each of them a Halloween bag, with some themed worksheets inside, an idea borrowed from Tiny Acorns as the kids love them so much. Colouring pages, wordsearch, a maze and word puzzles kept them all busy while they all sat and did them together amidst a pile of empty sweet wrappers!

Despite the huge amount of sugar they must have consumed, the excitement and worn them all out, and my boys were in bed almost as soon as everyone had left - full of excitement about the next day and Halloween part two!

Monday, 26 October 2015

Loukas Name Day and a trip to A&E

According to the Greek Orthodox Church, every day of the year is dedicated to the memory of at least one (usually more than one) saint or martyr. If someone is named after a saint, then there is a big celebration on his or her name day.  Since we have been in Cyprus we always have a small celebration on the boys name days, as they both have their own - Leonidas is 15th April and Loukas 18th October. 

We don't celebrate them as we would a birthday but they get a card and a small present and we usually meet up with friends for a picnic in a park, and of course there is always cake!

Louka loved his card, especially because it had his 'face in the circle', and his new Fireman Sam sticker book that he let Leo do with him. They spent quite a while doing it together with very little moaning between them which is a very rare occurrence in this house!

The boys spent the morning playing and watching tv while I prepared some food for the picnic and made cakes for us all.

Of course, they couldn't resist 'helping' with the cake making process...

We headed to the park to meet our friends for our picnic,  the boys moaning they were hungry all the way were not impressed when I made them wait for the others before eating, of course as soon as they arrived all thoughts of food disappeared as they ran off to play together!

All was well for a while until we heard a loud cry from Louka, we hadn't seen but apparently he fell off a ladder leading to a small tree house (one he has climbed with no problems many many times).  I ran to console him as he was very upset and took him back to the table for a cuddle.

We examined his arm, and established that he could move it as normal and wiggle his fingers, and although he looked sad he soon stopped crying and them curled up on me and fell asleep.  It's been a long time since we've used his pushchair but it lives in the car so I put him in there , where he slept for about an hour.

He woke with a cry looking a bit bewildered but soon livened up once he saw the cakes and eventually walked off to play.  I was not convinced his arm was 100% right but figured it couldn't be broken or he'd not be able to move it or at least wouldn't go walking off!

We carried on as usual until bedtime, with him just saying every now and again he was sad because of his arm but not making any more of a fuss than that.  As he literally threw himself into bed though he landed on the bad arm and once again cried quite a bit - well quite a bit for Louka anyway!

However he calmed down quickly and went off to sleep so I assumed all was ok.

Monday morning came and I packed them off to school, pre warning Louka's teacher that he'd hurt his arm but seemed ok really and to ring me if they needed me.

After getting no calls I picked him up as usual at 1pm and all was well.   We collected Leo and then Louka tripped over, landing on his bad arm in the process,   he cried, a lot but still calmed down quick enough and moved it all about easily.

Deciding it would be best to get it checked I packed drinks, snacks and his tablet into my bag and we set off for the hospital, only to encounter a power cut just as we got into the lift!

Thank goodness for snacks and a fully charged tablet!   Louka was alarmed at first at being trapped in a small dark lift but thanks to crisps and 'Angry Birds'  and talking to my Mum through the door he was happy enough.

About 30 minutes later the power came back on and we emerged,  'Now go fix arm?' he asked.

So I arrived at A&E with a happy looking boy, who while I was explaining the purpose of our visit, raised  and waved both arms in the air to get me to pick him up - the receptionist did not look impressed!

Luckily enough though, we were the only people in the waiting room and it was not long until we were seen by a couple of sceptical looking nurses who examined him.   Louka didn't even flinch during it so they must have thought I was an over anxious mother but they sent us off for an xray anyway.

I'm sure you have guessed where I've been going with this,  and sure enough to their huge surprise the xray showed that he had indeed broken his arm. Cue much fuss and attention for the little brave boy!

We were in and out of the hospital in less than an hour and back home to show off his 'special bandage'

The following day Louka went to school without a single complaint for the first time since September being excited to show off his arm,  the novelty is now starting to wear off several days later unfortunately but hopefully he won't have to keep it on that long.  We have been advised maybe 3 weeks but tomorrow we take him back for an update!

Friday, 16 October 2015

Flashback Friday - Summer 2015

Over the years I have written many Flashback Friday posts, and even ran the link up for a while as it was one of my favourite bits about blogging,  being able to write about things that had happened years beforehand and record memories which might otherwise be forgotten. 

Occasionally I would use a more recent picture, usually when struggling to come up with something to fit a theme or get a post published each week but I always felt that was cheating a little bit!

But, my blog, my rules and I've realised I can use it to play catch up and revisit some of my photos from the year that I didn't get round to writing about at the time. 

Summer 2015 was a great summer for us, with both the boys finishing their respective schools for the last time before moving on in September. 

They were excited to be off for the summer...

We stayed close to home like we have done every year, but where do we need to go!  

I was brave, and took the boys to the pool by myself more often than I ever did before. Now Leo is a fairly confident swimmer, and Louka is happy to wear his armbands and not be held on to. things are a lot easier. Louka will generally stay put when asked to and usually sticks quite happily next to Leo so I know he is less likely to run off and do something stupid, they can both carry things now too which helps!

I took very few photos this year compared to previous years, I think due to the fact I'd got out of the blogging habit and didn't feel the need to capture every little thing, that and the fact I was usually in the pool!

We did get out and about a bit more than in previous years, and now that Aaron and I are running our own business we were able to work our own hours within reason to do things together more. 

I love that we have passed the baby stage, nappies and pushchairs are gone (well apart from the occasional late night out when Louka might go to sleep in it).  I love that the days of following a toddler around a restaurant or park have passed and that the boys can play by themselves (with minimal amounts of moaning / fighting / whingeing!) 

All in all it was a great summer, probably the best we've had in Cyprus, certainly the easiest!

The weather is slowly on the change now as we approach the end of October,  although the boys have been back at school about a month, we were still going swimming up until a week or so ago.  Now, although the tourists are no doubt still in the pools, it's just a bit too cold for us locals having acclimatized over the years (in other words big girly wusses!) 

Our fans have now been put away, and the air con has been off for a while, I wore trousers the other day (although am back in shorts now!) and the boys insist on wearing fleeces to school in the morning, well it was only 23 degrees the other day!

The season is changing,  and as we approach Halloween and the changing of the clocks it will surprise me, as it always does actually how close we are to the end of the year!

Add caption

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Interview with a 3 year old {Loukas}

Every year since Leo turned three I have 'interviewed' him just after his birthday, asking him the same list of questions each year to see how his answers change over the years.

This year, Louka got to join in with the tradition as he turned three in August....

He was very funny, whispering his answers so quietly at first that we could hardly hear him, and them looking to Leo at each question as if to check what he should be saying.  

He was a little confused at 'What is your favourite thing to wear?' as at that point in the year it had been months since he had been in much more than a pair of pants or shorts!

I'd forgotten how much harder it is to interview a three year old compared to a 5 or 6 year old,  but that's part of the fun.   He was spinning around and trying to stand on his head and told us that his favourite thing to eat was a light saber!

It also turns out that is is rather fond of apples!

Best answer though has to be to the question, 'What do you want to be when you grow up?'

Answer..... 'Bigger'!

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