Thursday 31 December 2015

New Years Resolutions or What I'm cutting down on in the new year

I don't make New Year Resolutions, although I do try all year round to cut down down on things and stop doing other things, whether it's swearing, loosing weight, smoking, being a better person, I never stop trying.

However this year I am going to make a real focus on what I drink. I don't mean alcohol, I don't actually drink a lot of that, contrary to what some people may think. It's coffee and soft drinks. Whether it's made at home, is a take away or a soft drink in my lunch box.

What will be a big help with what I'm intending on cutting out is the fact I am now working and won't have the free time to pursue this activity of lounging around coffee shops, working at home, getting hot and just grabbing a can of Iced tea from the fridge. I'm not going to stop having them altogether, but just go back to having a coffee out as a treat and not a day to day (sometimes twice a day) activity.

I've put on loads of weight since moving to Dubai, I believe it's due to the amount of sugar in the soft drinks and the milk in the coffee, it'll also have something to do with 9 times out of 10 having a donut, slice of cake or cookie when I stop for a latte.

HDYGG round up 2015

I've had great fun this year joining in with Annie and How Does Your Garden Grow. I've added a tab at the top of my blog if you're interested in reading my full HDYGG journey.

I'm living in Dubai, in a desert, we don't have sandy soil, we just have sand. I've never been big on gardening, usually I get bored and seedlings and bedding plants tended to go unwatered, so in the UK I stuck with shrubs and twice a year we'd have a 'tidy the garden' session and a couple of trips to the local tip.

One of my first photos this year was with Project 365 where I joined up photo prompts from snaphappybritmums and FMSPhotoADay.

I started noticing the colour in the streets while I was out and about exploring our new home and a visit to The Dubai Miracle Gardens had me convinced I too could achieve greatness in the empty sand and concrete garden at the villa we are renting.

We've now completed a full year in Dubai, starting and finishing in winter. I now know what to plant, where and when, I've visited places I would probably never have been or written about.

So what am I going to do for HDYGG this year? 

I don't have any travel planned this year, but I still have a few posts to write up from 2015 trip to Canada where I went camping in the wilds of Alquonguin and visited the beautiful gardens of Casa Loma in Toronto. I'll probably switch to a monthly round up of the garden, once I've caught up with all the lovely places I've visited last year. now that I am working full-time and of course there will be school planting projects I can report on, but sadly no photo's but I can try to recreate some at home.

I'll leave you with what's happening in the garden right now, we've had 2 tomatoes from the garden and there are lots more waiting to ripen, a few seeds are poking through in the pots and I'll be digging over the sand pit in the next few weeks ready to plant the seedlings out.

It would appear I'm not going to be digging alone, this bone burying of Bob's had better stop soon, or no more bones for Bob.

The municipality have been in full force also with their planting, this is the road outside the Burj Al Arab.

Wednesday 30 December 2015

The importance of letter writing

I've seen numerous social media updates over christmas where people have posted 'thank you for all the messages, hope you all have a happy christmas and new year, sorry I can't reply to everyone'

Really??? Are you sorry you can't reply to each and everyone? Did you really receive THAT many messages?

'We've made a donation instead of sending christmas cards this year, so happy christmas all'

I hate seeing these updates, I don't mind that you haven't sent me a christmas card, but I do mind if you fail to acknowledge mine, just with a simple message on social media to say 'thanks for the card' and I do mind if you can't take the time to respond to a message or update I've tagged you in or sent directly.

Whether we write with pen and paper or write an update on social media we do it for the interaction, for a response, to share information, photo's of places or family, it's all about communication, which is a two way street.

If I write you a missive (10 page hand written letter) respond to it. As a rule the people I write my missives too send them back even longer, even if it's a typed round robin stuck in a card and not personalised, answer it, respond to it. The sender is looking for a response even if it's just a message on Facebook saying 'thanks for the letter/card' Don't just ignore it, that person has contacted you because they want or even in some cases need the interaction, want a response, want to be part of your lives.

The same goes on face book, don't assume someone's update is just rubbing your nose in things and ignore it, they are proud of theirs and their kids achievements and yes sometimes it may be a little exaggerated but they are looking for a response, give a random like or ignore, no worries. But if they've tagged you in the post it is because they want you to see it, they want a response, they are opening up the doors for communication, don't ignore it.

It's too easy with social media to pretend you're involved in someones life, that you've seen their updates and photo's, but how does that person know that if you don't respond?

People say they are too busy these days to write letters anymore, too busy to go on face book and click 'like' but not busy enough to post their own updates.

For 4 years we lived in South Africa, the Christmas we left the UK, we were homeless, having packed up all our worldly goods, what we hadn't already sold or given away and spent christmas touring the UK saying goodbye to family and friends, before moving 6000 miles away.
Last Christmas we were living in a Hotel in Dubai having moved there 6 days before christmas, but as with previous years we still found the time to write and send christmas cards as well as organise presents.

I've spent my week writing thank you notes, asking people about their Christmas and their plans for the year ahead, despite already having already said thank you on face book.
I've written and will be posting the birthday cards for January next week, February till June birthday cards will be sent back to my mum with one of the kids for her to forward on nearer the time and birthday and easter gifts, small toys for my niece, were taken over in September.

It's easier now the kids are adults they only want cash and as for the Mother's they will have flowers for birthdays and Mothers day, ordered online. They will phone when they arrive.

I don't send gifts, cards and letters to be acknowledged with a big thank you, I send them to show that despite living 1000's of miles away that you are important in my life and I'd like to think I'm important in yours. Sadly this isn't always the case, but I will continue to set the example and hope you follow the lead.

These folders contain every letter and card sent to us as a family since our expat journey began in January 2011. I also photocopy every letter I write before sending it. One day, to future generations, I hope it will be of interest, mapping their great grandparents lives abroad.

Sunday 27 December 2015

Week 52 - Project 365

Sunday started off with everyone at home. Hubby won't be travelling again until mid January, the teen goes back on Jan 8th and child 3 of 5 arrives on Dec 29th until Jan 13th. He's taking time off work to be with the kids as I return to work on Jan 3rd. I need transport to get to work, we have one car and I've been using it while hubby is away, he works at one end of Dubai, I work at the other and we live in the middle. The train doesn't start early enough for me to get across the city and leaves hubby with a long walk the other end, so I set off along Sheikh Zayed Road to enquire about a car lease, but I was thwarted by not having a credit card. For My Sunday Photo I took a picture of one of the many Christmas trees i've seen while I've been out and about.

I've been having a lot of fun with #ElfOnTheShelf alternative, so much so, I'm now doing the 12 Days of Christmas alternative.

Day 354 #onedailypositive #ILoveDoingThis #fmsphotoaday #young #snaphappybritmums#project I love walking and I love exploring anywhere and everywhere. I asked hubby to drop me at Noor Bank Station so I could cross Sheikh Zayed Road (all 14 lanes) so I could walk to Oasis Mall for a coffee and some Christmas shopping.

Monday, hubby dropped me at The Madinat at 8am, the stalls didn't open till 9am so I had a wander around, visited the turtles and took lots of photos of the christmas decorations and had a coffee while catching up with writing blog posts, reading and commenting. I had a lovely walk along the beach, a snack at the fishing village and an appointment for an MRI on my ankle after cracking a bone 2 weeks ago, the teen had an appointment for blood tests and we had a quiet night at home and early to bed.

Day 355 #onedailypositive #joy #fmsphotoaday #green #snaphappybritmums #project365 I've spent the past week photographing Christmas trees and decorations in Dubai. It's brought me a lot of happiness and colour in the desert.

Tuesday was a lovely day of doing nothing, hubby woke me at 6am with a cup of tea before work and the next thing I knew it was 10am, I had a tidy round, made dinner, ironed, watched You Tube, ate donuts, sorted out christmas day lunch and a few trips while the boys are here. I read magazines, drank tea, painted my nails and blogged and organised photographs on the lap top. Hubby came home with a pile of post, we bought some wine and watched a movie. There was no animal tales linky this week, so here's the post for when Bob met Santa. Hubby and I had a long chat about whether our next trip to the UK, we've decided to pack away our suitcases for a while and have a staycation next year.

Wednesday I got hubby to drop me at Dubai Marina Mall, it's the last big mall to visit to photograph for Christmas. I get asked all the time if christmas is celebrated in Dubai. I also decided I really ought to do the food shopping so I caught the train to Ibn Battuta Mall, took more photo's and hubby collected me on his way home from work. In the evening we went down to the beach for dinner at a fish restaurant.

Day 357 #onedailypositive #decoration #fmsphotoaday #outside #snaphappybritmums #project365

Thursday and a public holiday, not because it is christmas but because it is Prophet Muhammad's Birthday. The date is decided each year by the lunar calendar, meaning this is the 2nd time this has occurred this year. Hubby was at home for the day and after a trip into the desert with Bob and a leisurely afternoon, we wandered off to Global Village for dinner and a stroll around enjoying the christmas festivities, drinking arabic coffee and tea, eating ice creams and just spending time together. There was no HDYGG post this week, so I added all the lovely photos of the decorations I've been photographing, to last weeks post, Christmas in Dubai.

Day 358 #onedailypositive #lights #fmsphotoaday #santa #snaphappybritmums #project365 

Friday and Happy Christmas to you all. MIL phoned at 8am, waking the teen up, we opened presents, had breakfast and lazed around till midday, then headed off in a taxi for an all we could eat and drink (house beverages only) to the Sheraton Hotel on the beach, we spent the afternoon there and really enjoyed the day, in the evening we chilled out, watched movies and drunk wine. 

Day 359 #onedailypositive #MakesMeFeelMerry #fmsphotoaday #present #snaphappybritmums #project365

Saturday was boxing day and the teen wanted to have a Christmas dinner at home, hubby and I were out having coffee, it was raining and quite windy, we decided it was very much British weather as it put plans to us eating outside, the teen and I started the dinner at 4.30pm, chicken, roast spuds, veg, yorkshire puds and gravy. By 7pm we'd eaten and washed up and by 7.30pm we were at friends enjoying a couple of christmas drinks and I ate all their chocolate....I have no shame.

Day 360 ‪#‎onedailypositive‬ ‪#‎BestBitOfMyWeek‬ ‪#‎fmsphotoaday‬ ‪#‎together‬‪#‎snaphappybritmums‬ ‪#‎project365‬ after a full year of travel and with our children living in the UK it so nice to have our youngest out for the holidays, we spent the afternoon cooking our Christmas dinner together.

I know there's no linky this week and there are still a few day left of this year to go, I need to start planning for next years Project 365 posts and decide what day of the week I'm going to publish, regardless of the day the linky is run. I'm going to continue with snaphappybritmums and fmsphotoaday as and when and where I can, but next years weekly update will reflect what I've actually done for the week rather than the photo prompts, same amount of pictures and hopefully less words.

My Sunday Photo - Week 52

Well that's every Sunday this year I've linked up and I've enjoyed every bit of it, meeting new people online, watching families grow and sharing life experiences with people I'd probably never have met.

I didn't know it was Sunday until about half an hour ago. I'd spent all day in bed writing blog posts, thank you letters and catching up with the soaps.

Hubby called me outside to help him with 'a bit' of gardening for me to discover this.

I can't believe this time next week I'll be starting a full time job teaching FS1 at a School in Dubai. All my lessons are planned, I have some resource prep to do oh and buy or lease a car which we'll be doing tomorrow. We're planning brunch on Tuesday and Wednesday will be on the beach. Child 3 of 5 arrives on Thursday and on Friday, for New Year we'll be on the beach. Saturday will involve a lot of food, rest, chocolates and Movies. 

Wishing you all a Happy New Year and I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas. 

Saturday 26 December 2015

A stress free family Christmas, past and present.

We've gone from a family of 7 to a family of 2 with the teen joining us for the holidays. We've also moved from the UK to South Africa and to Dubai over the past 5 years.
When the 5 kids were still at home, Christmas was a strange affair. My face book memories show the last Christmas day we had together was 2006 and then child 2 of 5 opted to go to his mum's on Christmas Eve at the last minute.

Most Christmases we let the kids choose where they wanted to go for the day, it just wasn't worth fighting over, the youngest 3 would choose to go to their dad's as they lived with us, the eldest 2, even as young children, would be waiting till the last minute to find out if their mum was having them or whether they'd be staying with us, it was unsettling, but we planned around it and either going to friends, parents or just staying at home on our own.

Christmas 2007

Christmas 2005

With friends

Christmas 2004, it snowed on Christmas day

 One of the houses on a neighbouring street in malvern, UK.

We put the decorations up, bought the gifts and put them under the tree and created our own Christmas usually on New Year's Eve, followed by half the street joining us for a party and a sleep over.

After moving abroad we had 2 Christmases where we were homeless. 2010 was spent with friends in London, prior to us moving to South Africa. Child 1 was let down by their mother at the very last moment so spent the day with her carers. Child 2 was living in Germany. Child 3 was working but we joined him in Reading for the night and boxing day and children 4 and 5 spent it with their dad.

In 2011 children 4 & 5 visited the UK prior to Christmas. We had Christmas day in the garden and swimming in the pool.

2012 The kids were in the UK with their Dad. We spent the day with our friends and their extended family.

2013 Granny joined us all.

2014 We were living in a hotel and hubby and I went to a cafe for coffee and a salad and the boys went to Subway round the corner, we then spent the rest of Christmas Day on the beach.

Christmas this year is just hubby and I and the teen, child 5 of 5. Child 1 is with her carers, child 2 with his girlfriend, child 3 is working and joining us for for the new year. Child 4 is with his dad.

We decided to eat out this year and went to the Sheraton for a Christmas Brunch, the teen surfaced at 8am after a phone call from the UK from Granny, who I assume got confused with the time difference or was just awake at 4am and phoned while she remembered. We opened gifts, had bacon and egg for breakfast and just lazed around before getting getting a taxi and going out. On arrival the teen was surprised to hear that this was a leisurely affair and not a eat and run and we planed on being their the full 3 hours. He ate quickly drank his weight in coke and logged into the hotel wifi and put his head phones in, hubby and I took our time, drank wine, sampled all the food and we got home at 5pm. Watched some TV and did the rounds of Skype and Facebook calls with family and friends.

For boxing day we had a full christmas dinner, cooked by the teen and I. We didn't start it until 4.30pm, at 4pm I was sat in Costa having a latte. We discovered the carrots had gone off and the potatoes were frozen, but it didn't deter us.

Bob enjoying the leftovers

Christmas has been and normally is stress free in our house, we start shopping early and don't have a set time to eat, just when it is ready. It would be lovely to have a proper family christmas, one on the day with all our family but even the family in the UK you far and wide and with work and the cost of flights during the holidays it probably won't be possible until we move back to the UK.

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and holiday time, we'll be spending New Year with child 3 & 5 watching the fireworks at the Burj Khalifa and the Burj Al Arab from the beach.

Thursday 24 December 2015

My Christmas Elf On The Shelf alternative

I saw people blocking and unfollowing people who were doing Elf On The Shelf this year so I decided to come up with my own version. I couldn't decide on 'what would be on the what' each day and to be quite honest with you, there's no way I'm making a mess, just to take a photograph, upload to get xxx amount of likes on Social Media and as it was intended just to be a bit of fun I wen twitch this.

1. Dog on the bog

2. Cat on the mat

3. Bug on a rug

4. Pandas on the veranda

5. Penguins on the engine

6. Seal in a heel

7. Deer on a beer

8. Ants in my pants

9. Seals on a wheel

10. Chihuahua in the shower (photo credit Lousie @mustntgrumble)

11. Snake in the lake

12. Penguins on the engine took themselves sunbathing

13. Frog on the dog

14. Dog on the frog

15. Goats on a boat

16. Hippopotamus on the bus

17. Hippopotamus on the bus goes to the beach

18. Robin on a bobbin

19. Hippopotamus on the bus was a bit worse for wear after a night out on the tiles

20. Dog in the bog got up to some mischief

21. Bear on the chair

22. Snake on a cake

23. Parrots on the carrots

24. Lions on the iron