Thursday, 3 September 2015

Loukas turns three, and the party where he's a 'big boy'

Ever since Leo's birthday back in May there has not been a week go past without Louka asking if it was his birthday yet. The question, said in an ever hopeful voice 'Now my birthday??'  was heard again and again, especially as other birthdays came and went in that time. 

He was full of excitement the day I turned the calendar from July to August, 
'NOW its my birthday???'   
'Almost Louka mou, but its at the end of the month' was the frequent reply. 

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you may know that I love to plan parties. It's been said that I go a little over the top but I do what I enjoy and that generally just happens. It turns out that the weather and time of year may have a bearing however on my level of party excitement, as I really struggled to get into it this time round. 

I think the problem was the lack of a theme that captured me and the following enthusiasm that usually follows.  Leo's first proper themed party was an obvious choice being that he was 100% into Thomas the Tank Engine,  Spiderman and Lego and Harry Potter parties followed on in the next few years without much decision on my part. 

At first I was mildly concerned,  was there a bit of second child syndrome going on?  but after the event I realised that just like on each of Leo's birthdays, I created the 'best party ever' for the birthday boy at that time. 

The pose and the smile says it all, He's a big boy now and 'he's bigger cos he's three' 

He woke in the morning to Leo calling him to look in the front room, I heard Louka gasp as he saw his cards and presents laid out and he realised that it really was his very own birthday finally. 

Aaron and I got up and I put the standard ipod playlist on with the birthday songs as we made tea and sat down to watch the grand opening.  Leo was a little over enthusiastic about helping and had to be reined in a few times as he tried to 'help' a little too much. 

Leo was a little sad, telling me quietly that he felt left out as it was all about Louka .He told me that he didn't realise that Louka would get such good presents, he thought they would be baby toys.  I was impressed at how he dealt with it and we had a little chat in his bedroom about how it was Loukas special day. I decided to let him use my camera (a small digital camera that I rarely use as I'm always using my phone) to take some special pictures of the day,  but only he was allowed to use it as he is 6, that did the trick and he happily snapped away. 

Nana and Grandad arrived with more presents,  and the boys played well together as we waited for party time. 

Due to the heat, and the success of last year's birthday, I decided once again to make the main focus of the party playtime in the pool. A cool box filled with water. beers and cokes meant everyone was happy!

Back up to ours after the pool for party food, music, pass the parcel and of course plenty of cake!

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Now you are three {Loukas}

Dear Loukas,

Happy birthday!!
Yes, today is your birthday, finally after such a long long wait for you. I think you have asked us everyday since Leo's birthday back in May and got more frustrated as Nana's, Grandads and Daddy's birthdays came and went,    now it's your turn though and I hope you enjoy it!

This year you started school, and although you didn't always want to go it has helped you and your confidence so much, not to mention teaching you your first bits of Greek.  You took part in your school Olympics and did so well, running with your friends and joining in with all the activities while we cheered you on from the side,  Leo was particularly proud of his little brother.

You ended your short time at nursery by taking part in the school play where you played a little Chinese boy.  We had no idea how it would go as you always seemed so shy at school and I didn't know if you would take part or refuse to join in.  You were of course brilliant, looking a little unsure at first but eventually spotting us in the audience and giving us one of your lovely little smiles.

I am pleased that you are FINALLY sleeping at night time now,  almost 3 years of night time battles have not been fun little man but we seem to have pretty much cracked it.  You can deal with late nights much better than Leo could at your age, and are good at going to sleep without a fuss when we are out, once you have thoroughly tired yourself out of course!

You love 'playing on the tele' either on the Wii or the playstation and are now really good at so many of the games. You also love watching Leo play on his tablet and over the moon when he occasionally lets you touch it!

Not so long ago doing jigsaw puzzles was your favourite thing, and I couldn't even tell you how many times a day we used to do the Winnie the Pooh puzzles, but now you have gone off that and prefer to play chess with Leo and I.  It won't be long until you can play all by yourself, but you don't quite get that you can't only move the 'horsey',  it's very funny to hear you tell Leo that you are going to 'take all his pieces and check him' though.

It's not long until you start your next school now and I hope you are as happy there as Leo was, I know you are very excited about playing with the toys that you have seen so many times when we picked your brother up. I'm sure you will make lots of new friends very soon, and maybe you will meet up with 'Yiannis, Angelos and Georgios' very soon.

Of course, out of school your best friend is Jaxon, or Jacsac as you call him, you are are the terrible twosome although you generally play better than you did just a couple of months ago when all you could hear was the chorus of  'mine, mine mine' as you fought over the same toys.

Photo by KlikPhotoCY
I wish you a very happy 3rd birthday Louka mou.  and lots of big squeezy hugs and kisses,  now you CAN do kisses!

Love Mummy xxx

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Our #SwimFin Summer so far...

Living in Cyprus, and spending as much time in the water as we do it was obviously very important for us to get our boys swimming as early as possible.

When Leo was small I went through many different options and swimming aids - armbands, flotation vests, swim rings, you name it we tried it! Well, nearly all of it!

Leo hated every single one and refused to wear any so I spent the entire time holding him in the water and being envious of the other Mums who weren't quite so nervous about their little ones happily wearing armbands and being too close to the edge.

Although it was not fun at the time it did have the ultimate advantage of getting him swimming unaided quicker than many of his arm band wearing friends.  Wanting to get out of my arms was a great motivator!

Despite this I was dreading the same happening with Louka, at least until he understood not to walk too close to the edge but he loved his armbands and would happily wear them even when playing at the side of the pool.  It did make my life a little easier but I was aware that it might hold him back, I think that they are restricting as they don't hold the child at the right angle for swimming properly, and they give a false sense of security.

So, when we were offered the opportunity to try out a Swim Fin, I jumped at the chance!

Here's what they say about this unique swimming aid.....

SwimFin is multi-stroke functional. It leaves the arms completely free to move and so can be used to learn front-crawl, back-stroke, breast-stroke and butterfly. SwimFin works for all ages and abilities: from toddlers taking to the water for the first time, all the way through improved learners to advanced swimmers who want to develop stroke technique.

But as well as the benefits and assistance it give in learning to swim, it also makes the child into a shark!!!

We took our fin to a local hotel pool to try and caused quite a stir...

swimfin on 6 year old

Leo loved all the comments and spent the afternoon in character, even creating a story around his new persona of 'Sharky' 

Louka was reluctant to try the SwimFin at first but Leo was more than happy to demonstrate, in fact even several weeks later its still hard for poor Louka to get a look in on it!

I wouldn't have considered getting a SwimFin for Leo, who is 6 and can swim very well unaided but I was surprised that it has still been a benefit to him. I have tried to get him to float or swim on his back many times but he has always refused to try, not even letting me hold him on his back before.

I was therefore surprised to see him suddenly start swimming on his back without any prompting, not only that but he has continued to do it since without wearing the fin!

Leo spends most of his time in the pool swimming under water and one of the huge advantages of the SwimFin over other swimming aids is that he can still do that as at that angle the fin is almost completely out of the water.

With Louka the SwimFin is more submerged and therefore supports him more in the water,  however you know the old saying......You can lead a two year old to water but you can't make him wear a SwimFin...

Louka has not wanted to even try the fin for more than a few seconds so far with complete disregard to the fact I am trying to write about his experience of using it! Over the last week though he has suddenly started swimming around rather than just floating about so I think it may be time to give it another try.

I will keep you updated on how we get on....

You can find our more about SwimFin on their website   
Pop over to their social media accounts for swimming tips, and more, you can find them facebook, twitter, Instagram,  and even Youtube. 

We have been provided with a SwimFin for the purpose of review. 

Monday, 27 July 2015

Relaxation at the Spa, a holiday in just one morning!

I've heard it said that once you have kids, a trip to the supermarket alone feels like a treat and I have been known to agree with that on many occasions!

Working on that theory, what does a morning at a Spa feel like? Especially one which looks like this....

If a supermarket trip feels like a day on a tropical beach, my morning at the spa was a full on summer holiday!

Last week I was treated to a morning at Malama Spa & Wellness Centre in nearby Kapparis, and what a treat it was!  Once upon a time, a long time ago I used to regularly use a spa in my local gym, back in the days where I had more free time than I even began to appreciate, when a visit to the gym after work and a quick spa session didn't feel like a treat as such.

The spa itself is amazing, set in a cave with a sunken pool, and seating areas all around in little nooks in the 'rocks'.  It has a mosaic tilled jacuzzi, where I got to enjoy a glass of chilled rose - at 10am in the morning..... I told you I thought I was on holiday!

I was never quite able to decide on my favourite between the sauna and steam, but I think the sauna wins by a fraction.  I prefer the dry heat and the lovely wooden 'sauna smell' plus the fact it's a lot easier to see whats happening!

Stepping into the sauna was a bit like stepping back in time for me, the smell took me right back to the carefree days,  and also showed me how much more used to heat I am!  Where I once struggled to sit in one for more than 5 minutes before running for a cool shower I happily sat watching the sand run through the timer without a problem contemplating how it was nothing like getting in my car after it's been sat in the sun!

The treatments followed the spa, and it was fantastic,  I had the full works,  the 'Malama Bliss' package which included a back and neck aromatherapy massage, foot and leg massage, a thalgo hydra marine facial and a hand massage. 

I was impressed that I didn't actually fall asleep, which is always a worry after getting up at 6am and then having a glass of wine at 10am and I didn't want to waste of second of the experience, but I honestly cannot remember a time when I felt as relaxed as I did laying in the treatment room. 

It stayed with me for most of the day, even when I returned home to a potty training toddler!

For more info on the spa, and my morning visit my local information website:

I was provided with a complimentary treatment for the purpose of this review but the opinons are all my own, and it really did feel like a holiday!

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Wonderful Waterworld Fun

Nearly 8 years ago I visited Cyprus for the first time and as we approached Agia Napa I was greeted by the unmissable sight of Waterworld's high flumes as we drove down the highway. I'm such a big kid and I said I couldn't wait to go there!

Of course we had no time to visit during our property finding trips, and I knew I'd never get Aaron to visit a waterpark, but I knew that when we started living here that I would be able to go eventually, even if it meant going on my own!

It took a little longer for my first visit than I originally imagined, many reasons delayed me including small baby / lack of funds / babysitters.... yes I know it's a family day out but what is the point of paying all that money to sit at the edge of the wave pool or next to a baby asleep in a pushchair!

Last year I got my chance, I won a free ticket via the Waterworld facebook page, and announced I was going on my own, or with anyone else who wanted to join me - I was initially even going to leave Leo at home - such a bad mother!  It does sound mean but I had an inkling that he wouldn't want to do much and I knew I'd be unable to go on any of the big stuff!

In the end, good ol' Grandad (another big kid at heart)  joined us and we had a brilliant day at the end of the summer holidays, once Dad and I had eventually coaxed Leo into the play areas after announcing on arrival he no longer liked getting his face wet!

Leo had asked many times when we would go again, and when the park would open again.  I told him I would try my best to take him again this year but we would have to save up as it's not cheap. (€38 for an adult, €24 per child, plus you are not allowed to take in food and drinks so by the time you've had lunch, drinks, ice creams etc you're looking at best part of €100 for the day!)

I hadn't yet decided when we would go, but when I saw that my friends from Tempo Dance school (where I used to take the boys to Jingle Jangles music group) were going I thought it would be the perfect opportunity.   Not only did we benefit from the group discount but Leo's best friend from school would be there too. Also, it meant I had adult conversation, the chance for a rest and wouldn't be on my own with Leo - a win all round!

The big 'kids'
What a difference a year (and a brave friend) makes.... this year Leo charged straight into the water, not caring about the splashes from the fountains and waterfalls.  He played happily in the childrens area, standing under the buckets waiting for them to tip on him, and even going down the little slides.

He still didn't fancy trying the bigger rides but I had a go on a couple with his friend, much to his Mum's delight as it meant she didn't have to!   I'm still a bit of a big girl though and wouldn't think about trying the biggest 'thrill seekers' but the kids are a great excuse!

Our favourite, as last year was the lazy river,  although going on it with a wriggly six year old on your lap, shouting 'Faster Mum, get in front' means it's slightly less relaxing than it is maybe supposed to be!

I was impressed with Leo's stamina, our group was first into the park at 10am and Leo and I left just before 6pm,  we stopped for lunch but apart from our  many attempts to get them to sit down for five minutes and have a drink, they didn't stop all day long, preferring to grab water from us like mini marathon runners as they ran past. Leo did however fall fast asleep as soon as we got in the car!

Messing about on the river!

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

The dark side of social media and the media bandwagon

They say that bad news travels fast and that has never been more true than now, with the high use of social media these days it takes seconds for stories to travel the world as people share and re-share news reports.

While this is obviously an effective means of sharing and raising awareness of something I can't help feeling quite alarmed at the effect this can have.  I spend a lot of time on social media, facebook in particular and I am shocked at the speed at which people rush to share something without checking the facts or the source of information, including the 'official' news outlets. 

Recently an 'attempted kidnapping' in a Cyprus hotel just 15 minutes from my house hit the headlines across the UK and I am stunned at the reaction it produced, even when it was announced that it didn't even take place. 

I watched as the story spread and was genuinely shocked and saddened by the reports and comments that it attracted in the days following. 

First of all, let me make clear that these things do happen around the world and we should be aware of our children and not live in a sense of false security, I do however assume that most of us are and take every precaution to assure that our children are safe.  Or course there are many people who do not, or they relax their watch on holiday,  but for these I'm not sure a news report or a facebook warning would actually change their ways unfortunately. 

I first noticed it when many friends on facebook shared a news report from the Cyprus Mail, it was all over my news feed within minutes. Of course I read the article immediately but I didn't share it, first of all there was really no need as EVERYONE else had but something held me back. 

I commented to my husband on why it was that bad news spread so fast, recently I have shared several positive  news stories about Cyprus and its the same few people every time who like and share them themselves. I posted a random status wondering why people only shared the bad news and asked 'Where's the positivity people?' 

I hate the scaremongering that happens and the speed at which things escalate without facts, and the fear that it creates and I wondered why it was that people seemed to want to focus on the negative. I had hesitated before posting the status but felt so strongly about it (of course saddened by the apparent bad news but wondering why people didn't equally share the good)   

I hesitated over posting it, mindful that I may be about to be shot down in flames for dismissing a serious incident, and as predicted I immediately received responses, one saying they were glad it had been shared as they live close to the hotel and now they know to watch their kids, and one saying they shared so I didn't become a newspaper article myself.  Like a big girl I backtracked slightly, apologized and went to bed. 

The next morning I got up to see newspaper reports with 'click bait' headlines
'Family flee in terror from Cyprus hotel after child abduction bid'
'Holiday makers forced to flee as families targeted by child snatchers'
'Dad tells of holiday terror as child snatchers attempt to abduct children from family hotel' 

I saw many posts in the Cyprus wedding planning groups, and on forums that I follow and they were full of panic and hysteria. I resolved not to get involved but I the more I read, the more it didn't add up to me. 

The stories were conflicting, and just didn't add up. Nationalities changed, numbers of people involved changed and people seemed to be jumping on the bandwagon left, right and centre. The police issued a statement, at first unfortunately only in Greek.  Many people here had come to the conclusion it was being blown out of all proportion and a few of us were trying to stop the hysteria that was growing. 

Then the UK media picked up the story, it was everywhere but it just didn't make complete sense. 

What most surprised me though was the unwillingness from people to consider it might have been blown out of proportion, even as the reports came saying so and anyone suggesting it  hadn't happened was told it was all a cover up by the police and government. 

'IT WAS ON THIS MORNING SO IT MUST BE TRUE'   was one comment I had shouted at me in a facebook group. 
'The BBC  / Daily Mail / Mirror / ITV had run the story so it MUST have happened' and so on.

Of course I had no idea of the facts, there were (and still are) very few people who were there and know EXACTLY what went on, but WHY is everyone so quick to assume the worst?

It makes me so sad that people don't think of the damage inaccurate stories can cause, and you cannot point this out as 'it's better to be safe than sorry' 

Once the official statement was released much fewer people shared that than the original story, I guess there's no drama there. 

If the allegations had been true then of course the story needed to be told, and investigated but it turned into a witch hunt causing needless worry to many people and damaging peoples perception of the area.  It's a shame that the British press can get away with printing unsubstantiated stories. 

Bad things can happen anywhere, at any time and surely everyone with some common sense is vigalent especially away from home,  but please people don't panic, and don't believe all you read or hear, and don't always assume the worst. 

Read the Cyprus Government response here - Cyprus rejects Child Abduction Claims

There is also a much more articulately written article than mine - Cyprus Abduction Scare - A near kidnapping or near lynching.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Harry Potter Party - Potions Class

At our recent Harry Potter Party, the definite highlight for the children (and possibly some adults!)   was the Potions Class.

Professor Snape fortunately was unable to make the lesson so instead our very own Moaning Myrtle kindly took over on his behalf. 

Tiny Acorns Creativity Centre

We had a magical array of ingredients for our potions experiments, including Dragons Blood, Leech Juice and Floberworm Mucus!

Harry Potter Party Potions Class
Image Credit: Klik Photo Cy

Our first experiment  - Exploding Potion

Each 'student' was given a cauldron and took themselves 2 tablespoons of 'Bicorn Powder'  (baking powder) 

Next a squirt of 'Dragons Blood' (blood orange juice), a dash of 'Floberworm Mucus' (washing up liquid)  

Finally, some Exploding Fluid (40ml of white vinegar)

The kids, and the adults actually,  absolutely loved it!   The screams of joy and laughter were quite a surprise to me, but it went down so well!

It was really funny listening to the childrens reactions to all the ingredients, wondering if they were REALLY what we said they were and daring each other to taste the Dragon's Blood (whilst looking surreptitiously at us to see our reaction to the suggestion!) Best comment came from one who said 'Wow, Dragons Blood really tastes like orange juice!' 

Experiment No.2 created a magical colour changing potion

For this we used:
Aqua Vitae (Water)
Pumpkin Juice (Orange juice) 
Nagini Venom (Liquid Starch) 
Leech Juice (Iodine) 

Each 'student' started with some  water in a clear plastic cup. 
Using a pipette they were instructed to add a few drops of iodine which turned the water yellow. 

Followed by a few drops of Liquid Starch to turn the water black. 

The 'magic' part comes next as you gradually add the orange juice which makes the colour disappear!

Even I was impressed, and the kids were completely captivated by the magic.  Once again Sam excelled herself with her attention to detail and dedication to the children. 

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