Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Gallery: Home

This week on the The Gallery, the theme is Home.

Home is where the heart is, and my heart is where my family is.

This is my lounge, it is messy, but it is where we spend most of our time.  It is a seating room, a TV room, a workspace, a playroom, a dining room and a library(?)  This is the place where we can all do our things and be together, this, as messy and disorganised as it is, is my favourite place in our house.  Although I wouldnt complain to have a separate play room and dining room and office, but first I need to win the lotto, so for now, this will do me to have my family together.

This week's theme on the Gallery is home.  What is 'home' to you?  Come and see the other entries over at Sticky Fingers

Monday, September 26, 2011

Interview with a 5 and 3/4 year old!

A few weeks ago I did an Interview with an Expat Mum, this time I thought it might to nice to get a different view on the world, so I had a chat with my oldest, here's what she thinks......

Whats your name?  Sophie Agate Gomes Amorim

Where do you live?  Conceicao, Tavira

How old are you?  Five and 3/4

How old will you be on your next birthday? Shows me six fingers

Who is your best friend? All of them!

What do you want to be when you grow up?  A princess and a ballerina

Where is Daddy?  In Porto

What does Daddy do?  Works on a boat!

How old is Daddy and Mummy?  Daddy is four and mummy is three (dad - 40, mum -33)

Who's your favourite person in world?  Mummy, daddy and Grace (in that order)

What's your favourite thing to do?  Buy candy 

BTW - I dont stuff my child with sweets or spend every day buying sweets!  So there's a glimpse inside the mind of my almost 6 year old, which apparently is full of sweets, princesses and ballerinas.  There are far worse things to fill your head with :-)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Really Yummy Chocolate Cake

Im not a very sweet-toothed person, I like much more savoury flavours but a good chocolate cake is something I can rarely miss.  Now Im not a very good cook and definately not a baker, I much more rely on the likes of Betty Crocker or Bimbo (here in Portugal).  But this recipe is great and makes great moist cake.

130g Butter
130g Sugar
50g Self raising flour
150g Chocolate drinking powder
3 eggs

Let the butter soften, then add everything in the bowl, mix well and pour or scoop into a baking tin.

Place in a pre-heated oven of 180 degrees or slightly lower if using fan oven for 35 - 40 minutes.  When you take it out, it is ok if it is still a little wobbly or soft in the middle, all the better (within reason).  

This recipe I worked out costs me about €1.90 to make and makes a good size cake.  And it is easy and yummy. Probably full of calories although!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Gallery: Guilty pleasures!

This week's theme on The Gallery at Sticky Fingers is guilty pleasures!

My 'current' guilty pleasure these days is a glass of wine or two and crime drama or if Im lucky some american comedy, post-children's bedtime, while I work or read.   I would say my other guilty pleasure is time at the Spa but that would simply be untrue!   

This is a really interesting theme, Im intrigued to see what other's guilty pleasures are, come and see at The Gallery.

Monday, September 19, 2011

When one becomes two...

When I had my second child, I always knew it would be harder work than having one, for the obvious things, an extra person to cloth and bath and entertain etc, etc, but there were some things which I have found surprising and a little unexpected,

Firstly, the learning to share, I have found came much earlier than with my first, as soon as she could move actually and that in a way, I had to teach the older one all over again, now there was this new person 'in their home' rather than someone at nursery or a friend who came and went.

The extra tidying, to be expected but Im still surprised how much mess two small people can make, my youngest is terrible for pulling things out as soon I tidy up, much more than my eldest does/did.

You need eyes in the back of your head and two extra arms, to watch two small people doing two different things in different places (oh no, i've lost one, what is she doing? before she pulls all my shoes out the wardrobe).

You get used to your first child's habits and ways but then this new, completely different person comes along and does everything differently, sometimes in a good way, sometimes not so good!  Expect the unexpected always!

Copying and imitation, with three and a half years between them, their skill set is pretty wide, yet the smaller still thinking she can do as the bigger, leading to mummy having a heartache on a regular basis and having to stop bigger throwing herself around for fear of smaller copying, which she will try!

Teaching a new kind of 'responsibilty' to the older in terms of the above, and a sneaky way of mum stopping her sofa, bed etc being ruined by bouncing children.

Sibling rivalry, know I knew this was coming, always does but what surprised me is how early it came and how it has now evolved.  The younger is more clingy and protective (?) even though she has always had to 'share' me than the older who had me to herself for 3 and a half years and now has to share!


Friday, September 16, 2011

Living the expat life

I have recently joined a new Facebook group for expat bloggers.  And I have to say I was relieved and surprised to see so many of us share the same concerns, issues and problems, no matter where we live or have expatriated to.  To those of us who have moved to sunnier climates, people often say 'you're so lucky' and seem to think our life is a holiday, but its simply not true.

Moving to another country brings its own new and different challenges, and on top of that, you still have the same day to day stresses of juggling the day to day running of life.  Yes the weather is good, and it has its advantages but life is no beach.  Most of us, it became apparent to me, struggle with almost a kind of 'grief' at leaving our old life familiar to us, friends and family.  Many of us struggle with language barriers and cultural clashes and differences.  Many of us, are maybe not entirely happy with our choice to expatriate but due to unforeseen circumstances, have no choice but to stick it out.  There is also the added pressure of having expatriated to your OH home country and the lack of understanding that can bring between you.  Many of us, like our new homes but didnt expect it to turn out how it has.  Many of us wouldnt necessarily go back, some very much would!

For me, as some may know, we came to Portugal (my OH home country) when my husband got offered a good job.  I had just been made redundant and our life was in a rut.  So off we went to a new start in the sunny algarve.  Our life has twisted and turned in a way I could never have imagined or had nightmares about.  It has and still continues to be hard, and sometimes I really wish we had never done it.  If I had known what would have happened, no way I would have done it at all.  But we didnt know so here we are.  Realisitically, although I sometimes think about it, I wouldnt go back.

So next time you dream of sunnier climates, keep in mind Expat life is no beach, although the weather is better and there are some obvious advantages, life can be bloody hard. Harder than you would imagine.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The A to Z of me Meme

I have been tagged by the lovely Emma over at A Matter of Choice, so here is the A to Z of me.....

ANORAK…Do you have a sad side?
Not really that I can think of, except whenever Im out with friends all I seem to talk about are my children.

BODY…What physical attribute would you most like to change?
A few of them, but generally Im pretty comfortable with my body, but one thing which my husband especially picks on are my ears! They are a bit sticky out, and in a bad photo I hate them!

CELEBRITY…Which one would you most like to date and why?
Alex O'Loughlin from the new Hawaii Five-0.  

DEBUT …Tell us about your first ever blog post. What made you start blogging?
My first ever post was an introduction post, I've arrived. I started blogging to share my experiences with other mums in the same situation of being an expat mum in Portugal, I found it difficult to find information about parenting and child things and wanted to try and help other mums in a similar situation - hasnt really worked out like that.   

ERROR …What’s been your biggest regret?
I dont do regrets, just life lessons!  

FUNNY – who’s making you laugh?
My children - sometimes they do and say the funniest and strangest things!

GRAND…If we gave you one right now what would you spend it on?
Easy - a fantastic family holiday!! We deserve it, and need a break for a while. 

HOLIDAY… What’s your favourite destination?
Too, too many to pick one!   

IRRITATE… What’s your most annoying habit?
Procrastination, Im always delaying things because.......well I dont really know why! And being forgetful. 

JOKER…Whats your favourite joke {the one that makes you laugh everytime you hear it}?
Dont have one, god Im boring.

KENNEL… Do you have any pets?
Not at the moment, but we would love a dog one day! We always grew up with dogs and the kids love animals. 

LOVE…Are you single, married, engaged, living with a long term partner?
Happily married. 

MEAL… Whats your ultimate starter, main and dessert?
This one makes me hungry....starter would have to be a good prawn cocktail or clams, then a juicy steak with a side of pepper sauce finished of course, with Chocolate Cake!!  Washed down with a good bottle of Portuguese Wine. Yum!  

NOW…If you could be anywhere right now where would you be and who with?
Somewhere far away, in a warm and relaxing place with my husband (who is working away) and my two beautiful girls.

OFF DUTY…What do you do in your spare time?
Spare time, what's that?  But if I had it, at the moment it would be photography!

PROUD MOMENTS …What are you most proud of?
Graduating University with my degree, having my children!  

QUEASY …What turns your stomach?
Apparently, children's wobbly teeth.  My eldest has her first wobbly tooth and I cannot look at it or touch it.

RELAX…How do you relax?
Watching mindless tv and a glass of wine after the kids are in bed!

SONG…Whats your favourite song of all time?
Summer of '69 by Bryan Adams  

TIME …If you could go back in time and relive it again, when would you choose?
That's a toughy!   

VOCAL…. Who is your favourite artist? 
These days I would say Matchbox 20 and Kings of Leon 

WORK….. What is your dream job, and are you doing it now? 
Something which gives me time with my kids and makes a reasonable amount of money......what's that job called again? Im nearly there!

XRAY…Any broken bones?
Not yet, touch wood.

YIKES…What’s been your most embarrassing moment?
Cant remember but I have had some, but apparently have blocked them out :) 

ZOO…. If you were an animal, which one would you be?
Either a Koala or Meetkat, just because they are both soooo cute. 

Im going to tag
Nat @ Livi lou &dude
Manana mama
if you want!

This meme was started by Lauren at Real Housewife of Suffolk blog.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A New Chapter!

Today a new chapter starts for me and my children. Today my oldest starts pre-school which means the start of 5-day schooling and my little one starts 3 full-day kindergarten, so for the first time in a very long time I will have some completely child-free time.  For the past three years, I have always had one or both of the children, all the time. 

Im excited and nervous at this prospect, to finally have free time to concentrate on things without a child following me or requesting my attention every two minutes will be great.  I know the first few days, especially today will be very strange, and very quiet and like many mums I will have that first day apprehension of wondering how they are getting on.  I dont think I will be sad, I am excited for this new step for them and me, a step of growth and learning.  I was sad when Sophie finished kindergarten at the end of July, with the feeling of losing my baby, but now Im excited to start this next chapter.  And for me, it gives me time to focus on growth and development of my own, if I can find myself again! 

We're ready, let's Go!!  Time to turn the page

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Seven Things I want to do...(hopefully within the next two years!)

I was thinking the other day about where my life was going, as things are about to change and a new chapter starts, a thought Im not too keen to have, giving my past challenging couple of years.  But here goes...

1. Learn about Photography - I have a great camera which I love but dont know properly how to use it.  I have always been interested in photography but never had the chance to learn properly.  Time is not really an asset these days, but there must be a way.

2.  Take a holiday - I have not had a holiday for 4 years!!  We have only had one 'family' holiday, which was lovely but I am craving to have another.  I always have fond memories of my family holidays and want to have them with my own family - a time to get away, take a break, relax, have some fun and make memories.

3.  Learn to speak Portuguese properly - ashamedly after 3 years I still do not speak Portuguese, it is a very difficult language to speak and being an adult is not in my favour.  My children pick it up so easily.  I took lessons for a while but it didnt help too much. I know I need to make more effort, I find it frustrating.

4. Have a date with my husband, my husband is currently working away but even when he was here we never got any quality time together and sometimes its important to give attention to each other and remember there is something more holding you together than two little people.

5. Start a business - this is something I have been thinking about for years and have had several ideas, but for whatever reason cannot seem to move myself from the idea stage!  Maybe now is the time.

6.  See more of Portugal - portugal is a beautiful country full of history and beautiful sites, but I have barely seen any of it.  Me and hubby keep saying we should take a tour and see the sights, in the next two years(!?)

7.  Still to be decided..........Im not a good one for making plans and being aspirational, let's see what life brings.

Friday, September 9, 2011

New to blogging? Need some help?

Do you have a blog, but dont really know what you are doing?  Or maybe you want to start a blog for personal or business use

I recently completed a FREE blogger E-course run by Ace Inspire and I wanted to share what I thought and how it has helped me. 

It was a 21 week course where short and easy to understand lessons were delivered to my inbox every week.  At the time, I had been blogging for personal use for about a year, but had since started working with Tots to Travel in a remote team and needed to be more aware of blogging and how to network on social media and also for myself personally I wanted to learn more about it and how I can make it work for me.  I have found it a really interesting subject on a personally and professional level.

I feel I have learnt a lot and for what I have applied, it has increased my readership and followers. To be honest, I havent applied most of the more advanced stuff that are probably more applicable for business users, but I intend to in the near future. 

If you have a website and are comtemplating adding a blog, I would highly recommend you do, research has shown that adding a blog which is regularly updated of course, is guaranteed to bring more traffic to your site.  And if you need help to start or like me to develop your basic knowledge and skills of blogging, this is a fantastic FREE resource that you cant miss.   

Ace Inspire also have other FREE courses, plus valuable resources for Women in business

Monday, September 5, 2011

A View of Porto

My husband is working on the Douro river on one of the boutique river cruiseships and we have visited him a couple of times.  I admit I havent seen much of Porto but I think the riverside (all I have seen) is beautiful and so interesting.  I look at it and its like you can see the past, like looking at history alive.

The Bishop's Palace with Se behind it.

Oporto Riverside

One of the old Port boats

More port boats, now mostly used for tours

Dom Luis I bridge

Typical buildings on the Riverside
Next time I go to Porto, I will actually see some more of it.

Please note, the date on the photos is incorrect, these are recent photos!

Friday, September 2, 2011

The day has arrived!!

So today is the first of September, a time of new starts, the arrival of a new season. 
And today was a day I have been waiting for, for a long time, seems like years but is probably only months that I have finally been able to replace my old man, no not my husband, but my outdated, tired laptop.  I dont have a lot of gadgets, so I am very excited to have my new toy!  But it means so much more than a toy,

1. Increased productivity - instead of spending hours waiting for things to load, pages to change, I will actually feel like Im getting stuff done and will be able to achieve more.  This also works well alongside 'back to school'  and being child-free for the first time, almost ever! 

2. Chance to keep in touch1 - this comes in two ways, I once again have mobile internet, which means more time to chat and email with people, instead of being tied to a desk!!  Also now I can skype, my old man had given up the camera and microphone so that was a no-no.

Chance to keep in touch2 - my husband who is currently working away at another part of Portugal will be able to see the children and they can talk to him 'face to face' - very important.

3. Reduced phone bills due to the renewed ability to skype call

4.  Income potential - new computer means more avenues and possibilites to make money,

It may not seem much to some people or some people may think Im putting too much on a new computer but for as much as we rely on our 'gadgets', now they are our lifelines for keeping in touch, making money and new business and networking more and more.  Also for me being an expat in a non-english speaking country, I rely on it that much more.  And lastly as a remote worker, it is essential for my work with Tots.