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. 

Monday, 12 June 2017

Doctor Who Party - Preparation, Decorations and Food!

If you've been reading my blog for a while you'll probably know that I love a bit of party planning,   From the early days of Thomas the Tank Engine, The Hungry Caterpillar and Spiderman we 'leveled up' into Harry Potter and a Star Wars party in the last couple of years.

Which of course led to the question of what Leo's 8th birthday party would be....  now as a self confessed Whovian I've been hankering after creating a Doctor Who party for years, since seeing ideas on pinterest ages ago.   I had thought it would be best to save it for a few years seeing as the other kids have no idea about the show,  but after mentioning it in passing to Leo he was very excited about the idea.   ( I admit he may have been picking up on my excitement but I did check several times it was what he REALLY wanted - honestly!!)

We decided that it didn't really matter,  everyone might not get the references to the show but they'd enjoy the party anyway!

He's also loving Pokemon at the moment so I managed to squeeze a bit of that too and surprise him on the day - he loved his 'mash up' party.

I knew we'd be very busy in the lead up to his birthday weekend, as we had Nic over to stay and a full week of weddings so I started planning ages in advance - and because I was just a little bit excited of course!

So here's a few pictures of the preparations, and the little bits that went towards making it FANTASTIC!

Most of the ideas had come from pinterest and Aaron helped me bring them all to life, although they all seemed simple enough he's just that little bit more of a prefectionist so I know he'll always do a great job.

The party bags - containing a TARDIS key,  'pokeball' a TARDIS notebook and silver pencil, alien and mini Pokemon figures,  3D glasses,  and of course some sweets.

 The food 

Bow Tie pasta,
Time Vortex Cookies,
TARDIS Self destruct buttons (Jammy Dodgers)
Jelly Babies
'Ood' Cupcakes
Timey Wimey Popcorn
Wibbly Wobbly stuff (jelly)
Fish Fingers and Custard  (chicken fingers and mayo with a tiny bit of yellow food colouring)
Adipose marshmallows

And of course..... a TARDIS birthday cake.

The drinks - As well as juice I made all the kids a personalised bottle of water, its a great way to get them drinking it as we just refil it every time they finish it, it also lessens spillages and stops them constantly confusing which drink is theirs.

Rehydrate... Rehydrate...
and of course not forgetting the adults...

The Decorations - I'd been searching online for inspiration and saved a few bits of art work and quotes,  Aaron made a few adjustments to some of them and we printed them on our dye sub printer making them high gloss prints that will end up going in the boys bedroom.

We also had a great surprise when we found out that my friend Sam had made us a life size TARDIS!

It all went down very well, with Leo being more excited in the days leading up to his party than he'd ever been before, I was starting to wonder if it wasn't going to live up to his expectations but luckily it did.

Click here for the Doctor Who Themed Party Games.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Aged 8, Leo loves...

Over the years its become traditional for me to write a set of birthday posts for the boys,   starting on their actual birthday (I have been late once or twice, but they didn't realise)  with the 'Now you are....' letter style post,   and soon after their birthday with the 'Interview with' post.   Somewhere along the line I started the 'Leo / Louka loves' as well. 

So,  here you go with our Leo loves now he is 8.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Now you are 8.

Dear Leo,

Happy 8th Birthday!   I know it's a couple a days early but as it's party day today I decided that the celebrations start here!

Every year when I write your birthday letter I can't believe how fast your birthday has come round again.  I know for you it seems a long time since your 7th birthday and I remember how far apart my birthdays seemed when I was a kid,  but it seems to go quicker each year for me now.  I remember each of your birthdays so well, and it doesn't feel like it could be 7 years ago that you had your very first party!

I hope you have enjoyed being 7,  and that you will have many good memories from the year. You have now nearly finished your 2nd year at school and I'm so pleased that you enjoy school and being with your friends.  I know that you're not a fan of the homework, but most people aren't, its just one of those things you have to get on with.

You probably can't even remember many of the things we've done this year, it's so hard to remember all the little things,  which is why I love that you always enjoy me taking photos! Beach trips,

We've had many days out,  the Lego Exhibition, and first cinema trip, the aquarium, mini golf, Salamis and Famagusta Beach, Waterworld, Zaferios (many many times!) Wow, and Larnaca Fort and Fun Factory with Sam and the kids.   Carnival, Green Monday on the beach, and Easter egg hunting are just a few more things we've been up to since your last birthday.

There are more days at home than going out, but I hope you still have lots of fun,  spending loads of time at our pool,  or playing board games or video games together and BBQ's  ( of course with 'Daddy's Yummy Chicken'  and Pringles!)  film nights, reading are all things that we love.

And of course,  the day you say you'll never forget - when the ice cream man came back as we left the beach to let you and Louka both get an ice cream!

You've been going to Taekwondo for just over a year now and I'm so proud of you,  not just because you have got your yellow belt but also because you persevered with it and gave it all another chance when you felt like giving it all up. We wanted you to make the decision yourself and I hope you learnt something from it.

You are very understanding about our work now,  and you even have been able to come to work with us a couple of times now,  helping out at Daxifest and with the Limo Booth.

Photo Booth Cyprus

You are growing up fast now, and I hope you continue to be the lovely caring and thoughtful boy you are.  Of course you have your moments and can drive us all completely crazy - saying 'Αγγουρι' constantly and for no apparent reason for example!

To my clever, crazy, kind, handsome, caring boy, I wish you the best birthday ever, and hope you enjoy your party. 

And remember,  every life is a pile of good things and bad things, the good things don't always soften the bad things but vice versa, the bad things don't necessarily spoil the good things and make them unimportant. 

(and yes, I realise that is a Doctor quote, but it's a good one!) 

Love Mum, xx

Friday, 26 May 2017

The last few days, and the first. (Flashback Friday)

This time 8 years ago, I was still in England,  very heavily pregnant in fact I was almost 2 weeks past my due date.  I was impatient although I tried to appreciate the last few days before the baby's arrival like everyone kept telling me to.  It was a strange in-between time,  not yet dealing with a newborn, but not able to do much else in the meantime, too uncomfortable to drive, to sit still for long,  or to stand for too long.   Very tired  (or so I thought at the time!)  but unable to sleep well.

At 35 weeks
We were living with my parents in between selling our own house and moving to Cyprus,  so I was enjoying not having to do much around the house other than arrange myself between tons of cushions with snacks and a DVD box set,  yet also wanting to not live out of boxes and to settle in our own place.    It was a really strange, wanting to get on with so many things but also unable to quite imagine how everything would soon be changing so dramatically.

This came up in my facebook memories at the end of 2009,  it was quite a year!

Maybe I'm remembering it differently now but it was quite a nice time, relaxing and quiet, but I guess that is because I can now compare it to the sleepless nights and the never ending stuff that comes after.  Maybe its because I can compare the last few weeks of my first pregnancy with my second which were quite different.

I wrote about the lead up to the birth  and the birth itself but not for several years afterwards, what I didn't mention is much about the day before. I think I was due to be induced on the 29th May (I'm not 100% sure now!) and on the 28th I'd woken up early in the morning with what I assume were mild contractions.   I called the maternity department and they advised me to keep an eye on them but if nothing much else happened to call them at 9pm to see if they had a bed free to take me in to be induced.

It seemed a bit odd to me, and I kind of hoped that it would all kick off during the day so we could get on with it, but nothing much happened and in fact I think it had all stopped by dinner time.  I called as requested and they asked if anything was happening,  when I said no, they asked me to call again just before 11pm.

I did, they had a bed and they told me to come in!

It was the strangest thing,  not knowing until that point whether I should be about to leave for the hospital or go to bed.

It still seems a bit odd to me to go in at that time of night, but we left for the hospital and I remember phoning my friend on the way,  telling her that I was about to go and have a baby!

As I was induced with both boys I do wonder what it is like to go into labour unexpectedly,  it's a really strange feeling just getting in the car to go out knowing that you will have a baby in the next few hours.

Waiting for the induction is just as strange, laying on the bed perfectly comfortable thinking any minute now its all going to start, and actually, I'm not sure I'm up for this!  I could hear another woman in full labour screaming her head off and it suddenly dawned on me that I  it wasn't going to be a good few hours.

Luckily at the time I had no idea it would be almost 12 hours as I think I might have tried to do a runner!

After Leo was born and Aaron went home to get washed and changed I think I was in a state of shock, I held him and looked at him, not really sure what to say or do,  I rung another friend who hadn't known I'd gone to be induced yet and she was at the shop buying milk, I'll never forget her asking me how I was for me to reply, well I've just had a baby!   She was obviously very excited and but quite surprised when she asked what time he was born for me to reply, about an hour ago!

The very first photo

I hated being in hospital,  of course I was in pain, and but I just didn't know what to do with myself.  I would pick Leo up and sit for ages looking at him, thinking what shall I do now! I chatted to him about god knows what and felt a bit daft especially as he hardly opened his eyes at all.  (I'd had pethidine late in labour and I think it made him sleepy, he slept for pretty much 2 whole days)

I went home almost 24 hours after Leo was born, and the first few days home are a bit of a blur.  I know we had visitors the day I got home and the next two days,  which I kind of regretted afterwards as Leo slept the whole time but I felt I had to be up and talking to them when really I'd have been much better catching up on sleep - I think I've only just caught up now 8 years later!

It all seems like such a long time ago now,  but I guess it is,  8 years already!

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