Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My Christmas Wishes

This week's Britmums blog post is very apt for this time, asking what are my Christmas Wishes.

Well there are many things I want and NEED, such as a watch, a new mobile phone, although I am halfway there with my husband's old one as he got a new one recently.  So now I have a 3 yr old phone instead of 6 (dinosaur stylee, but it works more importantly)!

But there are two things I always want for Christmas, and it probably sounds corny but believe me is true.  I want a reasonably secure financial / job situation and my children to be happy.  Anything else I can go without, but my kids, nothing else matters to me.  I have had plenty of Christmases, but children got so much more out of it and I get joy by seeing them be happy, what more could I want.

Times are tough and presents will be few, so to give them more, I am happy to go without.  My sister in law called my husband yesterday to say, 'let's buy only for the kids' and I completely agree.  Money is tight, but to give them a happy Christmas and to be together is far more important than any watch or perfume or other stuff which is nice but you dont really want or need.

I always try to remember how lucky I am at this time to have a family who I love, to be with, food on the table and a roof over my head.  Not everyone is so lucky, people sleeping in the cold, children in developed countries who dont get ANYTHING at this time, should not be forgotten.  And of course, we should remember why Christmas is here, not because of Hallmark.  Im not particularly religious and each to their own, but it should not be forgotten.

I try to bring my children up to be happy and appreciative for what they have, not always easy when surrounded by consumerism and they are still quite young, but its important I think.  Things are not easy in these times, and Im almost sure my Christmas wish of a healthy bank account, will not magically appear, but one thing that will is my children's happiness on that day.

Friday, November 25, 2011

What Portugal means to me?

For those of you who dont know, although its fairly obvious from the title of my blog, I live in Portugal, in the Algarve on the eastern side not far from the Spanish border, near a town called Tavira.  And I was thinking the other day about what Portugal means to me, apart from being my adopted home and my husband's home country! So here it is:

P is for Porto, a beautiful city full of culture and history! You must go there if you can, but bring good walking shoes for the hills!

O is for the Orange groves and yineyards that cover the Algarve!

R is for too much Red tape, beauracracy here is mind-boggling and Im sure developed to confuse and put-off!

T is for time and the slower pace of life here, which takes some time to adjust to, after 3 years, Im still not used to it completely!

U is for Unbelievably bad drivers, they are terrible drivers, no signals, aggressive driving, dont look before pulling out, overtaking on a blindspot to name a few of the stupid and dangerous things they do!

G is for great weather, goes without saying really!

A is for The Algarve, with its miles of beautiful beaches and rolling hills behind! And all the other bits that make it great

L is for language, Portuguese has to be the most difficult language to learn, if not at least one of the top 3!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Gallery: Something I am proud of!

This week's theme on the Gallery is Something I am proud of

Without a doubt, the thing I am most proud of is my beautiful girls!  Being a parent isnt an easy thing and it's hard work at times, but when they are growing up well, you cant help but be proud.  They are and Im sure will always be my greatest achievement.

Come and see the other entries in this week's Gallery

Friday, November 18, 2011

The sadness of Christmas shopping

Christmas is a time for me which comes and goes in popularity, all depending on what situation my life is in, as is probably the same for most people.  Last year Christmas was not an enjoyable time and something I could have happily slept through, but having children always makes it better to see their excitement of the day!  This year, Christmas will be better I think and I am more positive and excited about it, even though I wont be where I would like to be, it will still be good for us and the children.

So I am starting to think about presents, especially for my children and although haven't made any decisions, obviously this is the time for pricing things up in order to make a final decision before purchasing chosen gifts.  I was walking through my local shopping centre, here in Tavira and looking around.  Now, for one you will never have the same amount of choice as I would back home but what made me sad was, that probably I will not purchase any gifts there or very few at most, purely for the reason that the prices are too high, in comparison to what I will pay on an UK site such as Amazon.  For instance, looking at the DVD of Tangled, which my daughters love, here is €20 or amazon £8!  What are you going to do?  I really want to support the portuguese economy, but in this case its a 'no brainer'.  In these tough financial times, I, like everyone else will be seeking out a bargain and to make the choice to buy one or several gifts for my children, there is no decision.

So my Christmas shopping will probably be done with no human contact, no going through the shops, it almost takes away the fun of it.  Christmas shopping here in Portugal is never the scrum that it is in England, although the amount the Portuguese spend in these next few weeks is astounding, even in a crise!

I also dont understand how the 'average' portuguese wage person can afford to buy gifts at what are to me, high prices.  I have another choice, buying from a UK site, but most of them dont.  I understand that they isnt the same 'competitiveness' or level of buying power, but there must be a better way.  I just find all a little sad.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Time to give Thanks

This week's Britmums Blog prompt is about giving Thanks, very appropriate for this time of year as the US and Canada celebrate their respecitive Thanksgiving days and as times are tough for many, sometimes we can lose sight of the good things in our lives, I am guilty of doing this too often.

It is a good thing to make you focus on what is positive, instead of always seeing the bad or 'grey'.

I am most thankful for my family, they are my life and I wouldnt be anything without them.  They are my strength,  my pride and joy.  They are my companions in life, my friends and my motivation.  My husband is my rock and we support each other, without that I would fall.

I am thankful we have supportive family and although not nearby are always there, thinking and hoping for us.

Last year was a very difficult time and we were very lucky to a few people without whose support I dont know where we would be, they shall remain nameless but they know who they are, I will be forever grateful for them.

I am so grateful for our health, so so important, because without that life could be so much harder.

Im thankful, my kids are happy and safe and live in a free country, where they have access to schools and doctors and are allowed to be children!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Gallery: 11.11.11

The theme on this week's Gallery is 11.11.11

Here in Portugal on the 11.11.11 is Sao Martinho Day, where traditional you eat roasted chestnuts and drink a special kind of wine called Jeropiga or Agua de Pe (foot water).  
We went to our local bar and had our chestnuts, but not the jeropiga, which was home made and did smell of feet!! so we passed on that.

Also being a huge jackpot, we had to play the lotto.  Unfortunately we did not win, oh well, always next time!

Come and see the others in The Gallery

Monday, November 14, 2011

10 questions!

I have been tagged by the lovely Emma over at A Matter of Choice, one of my favourite expat mummy bloggers!

1) Describe yourself in 7 words?  Shy, idealistic, caring, procrastinator, mum, loyal, easy-going.

2) What keeps you awake at night?  Not a lot, Im a very fast sleeper, pillow meets head gone, but if I do wake and start thinking about things that's it, Im awake!

3) If you could be anyone for a day, who would you be and why?  A world class photographer like Peter Lik, because I love his work, which I found while travelling in Australia and I love photography and would love to be better at it.  

4) What are you wearing right now?  Jeans and long sleeve top, on the verge of putting my fleece on, but not quite cold enough right now. 

5) What scares you?  Worries about my children and their future, my finances and the future 

6) What is the best and worst about blogging?  The best thing is connecting with people you otherwise would not have 'met', having an outlet and leaving a record for my children of their childhood years.  The worst thing is worrying about how people will take your posts and deleting or not posting for fear of recrimination and occasionally getting overwhelmed with stats and pressure to write a certain amount.  

7) What was the last website you looked at?  My gmail account as Im waiting for an important email!

8) If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?  Be more confident, I hate how unconfident and shy I feel at the moment.

9) Slankets - Yes or No (this divides the blogging world ;-)  Sorry Im still out on this one, not sure.

10) Tell us something about the person who tagged you?  Emma like myself moved her and her young family to another country for a better life, where she doesnt speak the native language, something she struggles with as I do.  Her favourite meal is a juicy steak with blue cheese sauce!

The rules.....
Answer 10 questions, tag someone to do the same.  Then come back to the original post by Super Amazing Mum and leave a comment.

Im going to tag, Jenny at Cheetahs in my Shoes.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sao Martinho Day

Here in Portugal today, 11.11.11 is Sao Martinho Day or St Martins Day is celebrated by various countries.

Source: Sonitus Sanctus
St Martin was born in Hungary in 316, his father was an officer in the Roman Army.  When St Martin was 12 he became a Christian, angering his father who put him in the Roman Army.  There is a story that during his time in the army, he took his cloak, cut it in half to give to a beggar lying the cold.  That night he dreamt of Jesus wearing the cloak and telling the angels, 'here is Martin, he is not baptized and he gave his cloak'.  He later became a monk.

St Martin's Day is celebrated all over Europe and through South America.  The tradition is that it is a feasting time, before the fast for 'Advent' and marks the end of harvesting time and the start of winter.

In Portugal, Sao Martinho's Day is associated with the maturation of the season's wine and the first day of tasting the new wine.  It is commonly marked by roasting chestnuts and drinking 'Jeropiga'.

Personally I do not like Chestnuts but might partake of a glass of 'Jeropiga' in honour of Sao Martinho.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Spinning compass

Lately I have been feeling lost, disorientated, confused like a spinning compass.  I feel like life is stalling and Im not sure how to kick-start it.  I have lost my bearings, hence the spinning compass and dont know which way to go.  I have plenty of ideas, yet am scared to take a step and even more scared of failure, or worse that I dont have what it takes in me to do it.  I am a bit of a dreamer, and everything seems possible, but going from a dream to reality leaves me stranded.  It is paralizing and damn frustrating, and I wonder how I got here, especially having lost my compass!

Another cryptic one for you, while I search for my compass and my way! And why am I up so early

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Goodbye Summer 2011!

It may seem a little late to be saying goodbye to summer, but here in the Algarve, the summer has really only just finished a couple of weeks ago.  Until the last week of October we were having glorious weather, still in skirts and t-shirts.  Now, we are full into trousers and jumpers!!

We had a good summer, one of the best, although a quarter of the family was missing! It was a quiet summer, but we found some new places, new beaches and took lots of photos.

For me, this photo is 'the' photo of this summer.  A beautiful sunny day and we were exploring and my girls are happy and beautiful.  This photo encapsulates our summer.

This summer I set myself a mission, and I can say I achieved most of what I wanted to do.  We definately visited more beaches, more often. 

Now the winter is coming, lets see what this brings.   

Coming up: Follow up to Tavira Beaches

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Being a memory maker

As a parent one of the things we give our children are memories, these memories can have a big impact on the future of that child when they become a grown-up and can help shape the person they become and also the parent they become.  This is a very important thing for me as a parent, wanting to give my children good memories of their childhood that they will look back on fondly.

My childhood was ok, it had its events and its moments, my parents give me a good upbringing but now the landscape of parenting has changed and a parents role is different, parenting has different expectations than it did when my parents were doing it.

My parents were good parents, but there were some things I feel lacked that I want to give my children, through no fault of theirs, just different generation and a different way of doing things.  The things we do with our children create the memory of us to them for the rest of their life, it is not something to take lightly and should be considered as is every action as a parent.  We are 'memory makers' everyday and with almost any action.