Hello and welcome to my weekly celebration of life – #MyHeartyLife. This is the post I write each week where I look for the good, the successes and the beauty of the previous week. It is a time where I can appreciate the small moments of joy and success, and show you that however good or bad my week has been, I can seek out the Hearty in my Life! It’s the main reason I originally called my blog what it is and I hope it will help you also to reflect on the goodness you have had in your own life!

Blog Musings and Goodbye Linky!

If you are a blogger and have come to link up with me, then apologies to you – It is no more! I do want to thank you though for your support over these few months, but after much pondering and reflection on my blog and what I want from it, I have decided to rein it in and just continue to write these “MyHeartyLife” posts for myself/my readers as a weekly window into the good and blessed points of life as opposed to doing it because I run a linky. I will still be using the # on Instagram when I share relevant pics, and will check that regularly to connect with you. I will also most likely be posting this weekly little nugget over the weekend now instead of on a Friday, as I have decided that I want it placed as a nice round off to our week. Naturally this means it will replace my weekly “Ordinary Moments” posts, which I surprisingly feel okay about. You see, whilst I have enjoyed writing those over the years, I now feel I want to move on from them. I have missed several this year and it’s really down to the fact that I am simply not feeling it anymore, and consequently they don’t seem to be flowing from me how they once did. Because of that, I sometimes feel under pressure from myself to get one out just because it’s that time of the week again and what I have always done for the last 3 years. I don’t like that feeling because I don’t ever want my blog to be a chore. It is my passion, and so I feel that by this not being a linky anymore, and turning it into my only weekly roundup of moments, it is sufficient. It covers the ordinary and extraordinary moments of life, as well as the joy, the gratitude, the appreciation and reflections about my/our life, or generally things within our family that are lovely and we want to high 5!

I am happy that by making these changes it will then leave space for me to write about all of the other things I really want to be sharing on my blog too.

I want to let you know that this was a hard decision (really hard) because it feels in a way like I am giving up, or that I failed at a goal I was so keen to do. But instead I think I want to shift that thinking to see it more as me evolving and recognising the places I can change and improve, and then being confident to make those changes to my blog and the content I share. I feel good about mixing things up a little now in order to feel in control, less stressed about something I love and treasure, and taking the steps I want to, to make my blog more of me. Plus of course there is that major factor being that the interest just wasn’t there from other bloggers, which you very much need when running a linky (perhaps the linky scene is already saturated? or perhaps taking a nosedive?) and I guess that’s fine… I tried my best and I can tick it off and pat myself on the back for giving it a go!

What these last few months have accomplished though, and what I am most proud of is the fact that it has created for me a pattern of focusing on, and looking for goodness daily/weekly. It has taken me back to my roots of knowing that however my week has been I can seek out the hearty moments and I can feel grateful for the small things. I am reminded I can look for the little achievements along the way and I can then, as a result, be grateful for life and feel more content in my life and in my role as a stay at home mum. I love that I am seeing success in places where I felt like I was failing, and that how I measure success is changing so much too. I feel more positive than I did a few months ago, and better about myself even when my days are hard and trying. I feel like generally I am being more mindful day to day, and taking more time to notice moments and scenes of beauty (which was my intention all along), and even if these are very brief, it is what I want to share to remember the good and hopefully help others do the same in their own lives.

And so whilst it has been a lesson learned in the blogging world, and I have picked up some techy skills, it has mostly helped me personally to be grateful for my life and the people in it, as well as the things I am blessed to have around me. I look forward to easing the pressure of running and promoting a linky going forward, and changing what I post. I have so many things I want to be writing about at this stage of life; more about my own loves and passions, and then certainly continuing with our family life and our adventures, and so much more on loss too which I feel is so important!

I am excited again for my blog, and for the opportunity each weekend (as opposed to rushed on a Thursday night) to be grateful and appreciative of what I have done, seen and experienced in that previous week. And SO, without further ado, here is the evolved and yet very much the same version of #MyHeartyLife ( just minus the linky and soon to be on a weekend) – Thank you so much for reading my ramblings until here and Enjoy my blogs from here on out!

This week…

This week has been absolutely glorious hasn’t it?And how mint that here in April we are experiencing a good old “Heat wave”! As a result I have had my sandals on most of the week (love), my legs out in shorts yesterday, and shades on daily – It has been wonderful and made me feel like a winner (and rather cool)!

I find that when the sun is shining, not only does the world and people seem so much brighter and less stressed, but when it’s warm, I find that life, parenting and choosing what to wear, all feel so much simpler! I love that this week we have felt the sand on our toes, have had lots of long walks, and filled our bellies with ice creams (In April!). I love that it has meant that I have been able to sit in the garden, with my eyes closed and only hear the birds and feel at peace. Yes people, I have loved this week so much with all of its fabulous weather, and I only wish it was here to stay, because I am certainly in a state of Joy and excitement when I wake up and see blue skies and sunshine every morning!

Grateful for …

Incase you can’t tell I have been super grateful this week for the weather! I am grateful to have been on the beach, seen my friend’s and sisters, and for the natural change in my mood because of the Sun! I am thankful for the warmth of the Sun on my skin and for all of the things it has enabled us to enjoy; from tasty ice creams and beach walks, to late nights playing out, and care free days. I am thankful to not need a coat when I go out, and I am thankful for nature in full bloom!

I am also grateful for the effort we’ve all made in getting to school on time… its been really good (except for Yesterday), and on Monday Megan even received an award for her efforts!

Succeeded at …

This week I succeeded at taking Alice swimming. I have been saying for ages that I need to fit a weekly trip to the leisure centre into our routine, but have always made excuses, and we have never kept to it. I used to always take Ethan and Megan (we went every week), and now Alice is bigger, I have felt for a while it would do her good, and it would be a good day out for us every week to look forward to (possibly with a few cousins too).

After we went last Friday with some family, I was reminded just how much she loves water and splashing around, and so on Tuesday I finally did it… we got the train to the pool with slides and a splash zone, and spent almost an hour having fun in the water together.  It was lovely and felt so great!  She jumps in now, and laughs hysterically as she flies down the slides and bobs back up out of the water. She goes round and round on those little slides and generally just has a brilliant time. By the time we’re done it is lunch time, and after her little pack up, she naps in her pram whilst I find somewhere to sit and work (or possibly wander the charity shops).

I love it when hard things become enjoyable, it has felt a huge accomplishment, and I am loving this stage we are in.

Found beauty in …

I’ve been to the coast twice this week and that has been the source of many beautiful scenes! Being at the coast/on the beach is certainly my happy place, and it is always so much more beautiful in the sunshine too. As I sat with the sun on my skin I had to close my eyes, breath in the salty fresh air and appreciate that moment of beauty! It felt like I was on holiday, and the peace and calmness of that moment, overlooking the calm sea and bay was indeed so very beautiful and soul enriching.

I love looking out to sea and relaxing, wandering the promenade, and generally seeing the beautiful sights of life by the sea!

Oh, and I loved seeing little Alice scoffing her first chocolate ice cream – that was just gorgeous!

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Is there anything more lovely than seeing kids enjoying their childhood and running wild? I just love it! I love to see my kids enjoying the outdoors, in the fresh air and running around, because not only is it a fantastic natural (and fun) form of exercise for them (and it’s free), but it makes me happy to see them letting off steam!

On the 24th of April 2018, children from across the Humber region will be getting together to participate in the Humber “GO Run For Fun” – A FREE event taking place at Hull Ionians Rugby Club, in partnership with Active Humber! It will span across 2 KM and is promised to be a fun free activity, where children can enjoy themselves and achieve something, all while taking part in physical exercise. The organisation is also providing a Health & Wellbeing Programme alongside the event to educate young children about the importance of diet and regular exercise, which I think is fantastic. 

With 21 schools taking part from across the region, including the run, a fun warm-up for the kids, and an appearance from the mascot, it looks like so much fun, and I kind of wish my kids were going to be there too (I know they would love it). 

GO Run For Fun is an organisation set up and committed to helping kids between 5 and 10 to get more active and healthy through their free running events. Their aim is that simple – get more kids running! And since starting in 2013, they have already welcomed over 200,000 young runners across their events in the UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Norway, Mexico and the USA.

Children’s health has been hitting UK headlines recently, with Public Health England suggesting 22.6 percent of children aged 4-5 and 34.3 percent of children aged 10-11 are overweight or obese. As a parent this is so troubling to me and we have always tried hard to help our kids be active and eat well to avoid the problems that come with kids being overweight. GO Run For Fun not only aims to deliver these fun, mass running events but, as mentioned, is also delivering a full Health & Wellbeing Programme to support the initiative. 

How we help our kids stay healthy …

We are quite an active family, who enjoy a lot of things outdoors, and so often our weekends will involve a walk of some description in nature! My kids, however have always been active and keep healthy by scootering or biking to and from school every day, by doing sporty extracurricular activities, and by us monitoring their snack/sugar intake.

We all enjoy a treat, but often at home we eat mainly vegetarian, and their main snacks after school is fruit, a wholemeal wrap with natural peanut butter, or raisins or something similar. We occasionally have crisps but I only ever buy enough that they would get them twice in the week maximum! All of our meals during the week though are fresh, cooked from scratch and mostly veggie. It’s something I really enjoy, and cooking for me is such an enjoyable thing, that we eat a wide range of foods and flavours! I find that this is not only a cheap way to eat when feeding the 5 of us, but I also find that the majority of things I make are also colourful and therefore have the healthy factor.

Just last night I made an insta-worthy dish that everyone thoroughly enjoyed (and lots of people asking for tips). It was honestly so quick, fresh, full of flavour, and healthy too, so I thought I would share it to give you a sense of some of the things we love – I present to you “Falafel with Giant couscous salad & Tzatziki sauce” – Yum!

Falafel & Giant CousCous Salad with Pitta & Tzatziki Sauce

You will need:

*Falafel (my falafel is shop bought from Tesco/Lidl and you can get them in all supermarkets. You can also step up the health factor by making your own, but my homemade ones have always been a little dry!)
*Giant Couscous
*Fresh Spinach
*Baby plum tomatoes (sliced)
*Feta
*Fresh Coriander
*2 Lemons
*Wholemeal Pitta
*Greek Yogurt, Cucumber, minced garlic, dill and lemon juice for the Tzatziki (or again buy it if it’s easier)! 

For the Salad – cook and cool the giant couscous, then add a couple of handfuls of shredded spinach leaves, sliced plum tomatoes, cubed feta, and chopped coriander

Pour over the juice of 2 lemons and mix it all up well

For the Sauce (If you are making it from scratch)

Combine chopped cucumber with 2 cups plain greek yogurt, 1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice, 4 minced garlic cloves, 1/3 cup chopped dill, 1/2 tsp salt (add more to taste) and 1/8 tsp black pepper

Then serve with warmed pitta and falafel (again cooked), and enjoy the deliciousness! 

Our Favourite Humberside spot to get some exercise…

Moving to a new area means you have both the privilege and challenge of finding new favourite spots to enjoy with the kids/as a family! Whilst we are fairly new to the East Riding/Humber region we both grew up here and have obviously visited family here too over the years. There are many places that are lovely to walk and cycle, and we especially love the coast. But one of our faves (not far from Hull City centre) would have to be The Humber Bridge Country Park!

I love that it is right on the edge of a city and yet once in there you feel worlds away! It is a nature reserve and a place where you can walk and relax together, have a picnic, play at the park, and the kids can run free or take their bikes and scooters. I also love that because it is next to the Humber Bridge, if the weather is nice you can also factor in the option of a walk or bike ride together across and back – covering an easy and fascinating 2 miles!

Helping kids to stay healthy can be such a natural and fun thing. I love to see my kids being active and enjoying the outdoors. We all love a treat, but I love that this is in moderation and they appreciate the taste and benefits of fruit and vegetables. They are always willing to try new foods, new experiences and as a result are finding things they enjoy whilst staying active and healthy!

Check out the GO Run For Fun mission statement and see if there are any areas you might be able to improve on in helping your kids and family be a little more healthy this Spring/Summer!

Ready, Steady, GO! – Run each day of the week

Bin the Sugar, Win with Water – Drink 8 glasses of water a day

Eating the Rainbow – Eat 5 fruits and vegetables a day

Keeping Going and Not Giving Up – Use the word Yet when you can’t do something, be resilient, not giving up

Team Spirit – Be a team player

Improving Fitness – Be active for 60 minutes during the day

 

*In collaboration with GO Run For Fun

 

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2 weeks worth of holiday pictures, and over 2,000 miles travelled across 4 different states, isn’t an easy task to now  condense into one blog post (how could I do it justice?). And so as I have spent this last week reflecting on what a great holiday we all enjoyed, and as I have been sharing the odd pictures with friends while retelling tales of our adventures, I saw how massive of a task it would be to blog about such an epic trip in a few 100 words and decided that to really give you a feel for our trip, I would do this particular holiday over 3 posts… beginning with our first week in Arizona!

London to LA 

Before our trip, so many people said to us they couldn’t think of anything worse than an 11 hour flight with kids… Especially when one of them wasn’t even 2 yet. But we obviously like a challenge, and whether brave or just delusional we took on that challenge! After a 7am start on Wednesday the 22nd of March we drove 5 hours from Yorkshire to London Heathrow, for our 11.25 hour flight to LA.

Far from being the closest airport to us, it did however enable us to fly for a lot cheaper to America than the northern ones – thus making this whole adventure a reality! We found that on the whole there are some really good deals with Air New Zealand from Heathrow to LA (go check it out right now) and as an airline we could not fault them. They were great with the kids, the food was lovely, and the seats felt modern, clean and comfortable.

The kids were fab on the way there… they were mega excited and we were mega excited too, and so as a result of us all being super excited, the first half of the flight was simply great. They watched movies, they snuggled in their seats with their blankets, and then watched more movies. They ate the pre bought treats I packed (this is an essential) and enjoyed the yummy on board meals (Butter Chicken curry and rice with salted caramel Ice cream, and a calzone pizza and Jam & Cream scone before landing!). And then… you guessed it, they watched more movies!

As the hours passed by and we went way beyond what would have been bedtime at home, Ethan and Megan sat dozey eyed looking at their screens before falling asleep for a couple of hours. Alice on the other hand became increasingly fidgety and tired, and therfore very emotional. I walked with her up and down the plane, and stood in the galley at the back rocking her whilst she screamed her head off. At one point in life that would have made me paranoid about what others thought, but at this particular point, and in this moment of desperation, I didn’t care as long as she would finally doze off!

And she did…She gave in eventually, and managed a couple of hours before landing, enabling both Nathan and I to watch a couple of things too and enjoy the remainder of the flight. They all awoke as we landed, and we smiled that we had done it – an 11.25 hours with three kids – High 5!

Then was the hardest part of it all – Border control in LA! Let’s just say it felt like complete unorganized chaos, and with sleepy parents, 3 exhausted kids, no AC and a mega long line moving at 0.5 miles per hour it was HARD! After 90 minutes of that I had zero patience left and so approached a worker, who after some chat bumped us up to almost the front so we could get out and get to the car rental place, and of course eventually get the kids (and us) to bed!

A while later we had all of our luggage, picked up our “pimped” Nissan Rogue, and had a bed for the night in a shady feeling Motel. We slept, we showered and we settled in to life in the USA! We were here and we were more excited than the day before.

The Drive!

For weeks leading up to our trip, all we could talk about was dipping our toes in the Pacific Ocean! We spoke of walking down the Hollywood boulevard and snapping shots in front of the iconic sign… and we dreamed of laying on the beach for an hour or 2, to recover from an 11 hour flight, and soak up the fact we were finally in America!

But none of this happened, at least not at this stage of our trip! Rather we were greeted with a tropical storm. Warm yes, but also very grey and lots and lots of rain! We decided that very first morning (after ordering our first stack of pancakes) that we would just go ahead and start an earlier drive over to Arizona to escape the grey and wet weather that was too much like home!

We took the I10  for 6 hours, with a stop off in Blythe for some tacos, and made it finally to Mesa early evening! It was the first of many long drives and like them all  (as you will see) was filled with so much natural beauty. This was sprung on us in abundance when crossing the Arizona border meant us seeing real life massive Cacti for the first time and it was such a novelty for us all (and especially the kids)!

Mesa Arizona 

Mesa Arizona was my home for well over a year, and I have missed it so much! Of course it has changed a lot since I was there 11 years ago, but the smell of the warm dry air and street names felt oh so familiar and I couldn’t get enough of it – it was like coming home.

We stayed in Mesa for 4 nights at one of my friends houses, which was so great. There we were able to catch up, chat late into the night, and reminisce. It was good for the kids too as they found new friends, and had other kids to play with which they thoroughly enjoyed. And then of course staying with friends or family means that is also great for the bank balance too! (Thanks Rachel). It was lovely living there as a local again for a few days, as well as going on a few adventures, and generally just seeing into friends lives a little more and living the American dream!

Whilst a lot of our trip here was about touring around the people and places that were important to me, we were also conscious that it was still a family holiday and so we wanted to do some activities that were fun and would build lasting memories too. The first day I started at the top of my my list and we had lunch at my most favorite of places – Cafe Rio (Priorities) and as hoped Nathan loved it too! Then with bellies full of deliciousness, we headed downtown to “Main Street” where they have an LDS Temple and Visitors centre. During Easter they also have an Easter pageant here, and so the remainder of our day (and evening) was spent here with friends… a place where most of my days were spent too 11 years ago!

We walked around and looked, played at the splash pad in Pioneer Park opposite, and then met more friends for a picnic tea and an evening watching the Pageant. It was such a lovely day in such a special place, that felt utterly surreal, but we lapped it up and had an absolutely fab time.

The following day we took our adventures to the next level when one of my friends (and his kids) took our family to Superstition Mountains for a hike. This was something I was greatly looking forward to as I have, for so long, wanted to explore the dessert a little more. The hike took us just a couple of miles up a track to the bottom of the mountains, where we found some Native American hieroglyphs – they were so cool! The kids absolutely loved everything about it (until Megs fell into a cactus), and had fun running round the desert and clambering up rocks with their new American pals!

Once at our destination we had our picnic and explored a little cave whilst admiring the incredible views and scenery. It was a warm day, but thankfully not too hot, and whilst I was somewhat anxious about potential scorpions and snakes, it didn’t seem to matter as it was still such a lovely time and Nathan and I loved just being in the desert, seeing the massive cacti and feeling the heat.

That evening the kids cooled off in the pool when we met up with an old friend and his family. It was such a great day, and then before we knew it we only had one last, and so spent the rest of the weekend mostly just driving round old places I lived and seeing old friends I love!

The Grand Canyon

We left Mesa on Monday morning after a delicious breakfast at the cutest of places in Gilbert! “The Gilbert House Restaurant”, whilst a little off track, was the loveliest of places to meet one of my friends for last minute chats and a hearty American breakfast. I loved everything about it; the food was incredible and I seriously felt like I was on “Anne of Green Gables” as soon as we walked up to it. It was a great start to our last day in Mesa!

Set up for the day food wise, we drove up the highway, passing Scottsdale etc until we reached Flagstaff. Here we had a toilet break and a late lunch before a shorter 1.15hr drive to the Grand Canyon National park.The scenery was beautiful, and as it blended from desert landscapes to picturesque woodlands, the temperature dropped and we soon found ourselves in a blizzard! It was the weirdest thing, and we couldn’t believe our eyes…especially to be at the Grand Canyon National park and seeing snow. As I stood there in my sandals, all I could do was laugh my head off!

The Grand Canyon and national park were quite possibly one of the major highlights for us all on this trip! It was so incredibly beautiful and each of us stood in total awe and amazement as we stood high on the edge looking over it. At this point, the sun came out and it was just spectacular! We weren’t there long, but it was long enough to appreciate it’s vastness, read of it’s people and see some local wildlife crossing the road.

It costs $30 for a car (weekly pass) which felt pricey for a couple of hours, but is completely worth it for a week. I would definitely go back here and explore it for longer, and would love to visit the Navajo stalls that line the road as you drive away from it! If you have a chance to go, you totally should (but beware of mountain lions!). It’s such an adventure and beautiful place, and we couldn’t believe our eyes, or believe we were there!

The canyon itself, and the drive down from it/ through it, and through the reservation is so fascinating and exciting. It is for sure the greatest of adventures! Of course it was a little more scary when darkness crept in, but with sleeping kids, it was an easy drive for the remaining 5 hours it took us to get to St George, Utah.

What a brilliant end to our time in Arizona!

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When cousins come to stay (or just play for that matter), my food supplies deplete significantly, our home becomes untidy (insert trashed), and my ears ring with all of the extra noise and madness! We often joke in my family that when we have any of the nieces or nephews over collectively, It’s like a swarm of locusts have invaded our houses!

When cousins come to stay, the kids turn extra nutty and wild, and talk super loud and fast. When bedtime rolls around it’s like an invite to party for them all! And when cousins come to stay, they chat all night, and all they want to do is all be squished into one bed or den they previously made for the occasion.

When cousins come to stay, we get extra treats, we watch films and we have lovely walks. They play outside for hours, play lego and invent games and scenarios!

And when cousins come to stay I rarely see much of anyone because they are so engrossed in their games and clubs, and in their play and laughter, that they think it is completely the best thing ever and mum is only needed for food and snacks (Hello Locusts)! My Kids love each of their 14 cousins, they are their little playmates and these are the ordinary moments of when they get together with any of them.

This weekend, Ethan and Megan had 3 of their cousins come to stay; 2 on Friday til Sunday as my sister and her husband enjoyed some kid free time celebrating their 10th Wedding Anniversary, and then one tonight whilst my sister works a night shift at the hospital. And whilst it is all very chaotic, later than we would like nights, and food depleting by the second, we love that they have such a great bunch of cousins on each side and can spend time with their special friends. We love to see the growing bonds, the friendships, the understanding simply because they come from the same nutty family and we love time to get to know our nieces and nephews and have funny chats, and build memories.

Yesterday we took the kids and their 2 cousins to Burton Agnes Hall here in East Yorkshire, and let them run wild in the grounds for a couple of hours. It was a lot of fun in a beautiful place, and despite the madness of the weekend, we are all grateful for the extra fun and general ordinary moments we get to have when cousins come to stay with us.

The Ordinary Moments
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