For years now we have talked about going to America on a holiday to see the friends and family we have there! Nathan has family in Utah, and we both have friends there too, and then there is the major thing of me having lived in Arizona for almost a year and a half back in 06/07!! All are are, and have been, major factors in us wanting to visit those 2 states!

Living in Arizona was fantastic! I was there as a Missionary for the LDS church, and whilst life was a little different to normal every day life, the adventure was still huge and the people I lived with and met absolutely marvellous. After the first Summer I became a lover of the heat (except when riding my bike), and I have since looked forward to the day I could return with Nathan and our family to see more of the touristy things, and generally show them around a place that means so much to me.

Up until now we have never really felt justified in spending the money to go as we knew it would be on the higher end of our budget for a holiday. Nathan was a student for 4 years and then I have always seemed to be pregnant, and with another on the way it always just felt like the money would be best used elsewhere (not to mention who wants to do all that travelling whilst pregnant?!). Last year we obviously knew we were moving house, and so our finances were wrapped up in that major adventure, and whilst it was still a goal we had, it was just in the background as something we would do soonish. It got to the point, as we talked about our plans once there, that we decided that if we could we would definitely go this year!

Cheap flights

And so this year came, and with it lots of flight price watching on skyscanner! We talked everyday about it becoming a reality as they fluctuated up and down, and then on the last day of January we took the bull by the horns and booked it! It felt so spontaneous, but then wasn’t at all! We got a fab deal being that all 5 of us are flying (return) for £1,476 – an absolute bargain!!!

We are flying with Air New zealand from Heathrow to LA, and I have never known it to be so cheap. We seriously thought it would easily be £2,000 if not more! And so we are off – for 2 whole weeks to America and we are super excited for what awaits.

A mega road trip 

We plan on having a Mega road trip – the ultimate adventure thus far for us all!

Last year we did a lot of driving in Italy, and whilst we know that this is far longer, the fact that there are so many new and amazing sights to take in, and people to look forward to seeing, it somehow makes it a bearable and exciting prospect!

Our journey will start in LA with a day or so of seeing the sights and Hollywood. From there we will drive to Arizona and stay with friends for a few days in Mesa, where we will see lots of special people and places. In Mesa I will show them some of the places I lived, climb a mountain and see the dessert, and then the annual Easter Pageant too which is brilliant!

From Mesa we will drive north to the Grand Canyon for a few hours, and then continuing north through some of the other canyons, we will stop for a night in St George (Southern Utah) and chill there for a bit. The next day we will drive up to the Provo/Salt Lake areas of Utah where will spend a week with family and friends, and show the kids some major sites from our churches history. I expect we will just have fun, maybe head into the odd mountain but mainly just enjoy being with friends in America.

Finally we will head back via Las Vegas for a fun day on the strip and a night in a hotel – see the sights, all before reaching LA and flying home to England!

Our biggest outgoing will of course be travel, with the odd hotel in LA, St George and Vegas, which I have found some great deals on too. As we will be on the road a lot and have a bucket list purely with like 20 eateries on, and so we expect quite a bit will be spent on food that is no good for us but delicious all the same. Most of our days will be spent doing free things and seeing places of natural beauty, and as we are mostly staying with friends and family it will be home from home and a huge saver!

The whole thing sounds both ridiculous with 3 kids and yet absolutely amazing too. The kids are excited for all the root beer and giant portions, Sunshine, Pancake stacks and seeing giant cacti in the dessert. We are excited for a holiday and to be able to see so many incredible people and places.

I can’t wait to share in the beautiful Arizona sunsets with Nathan, and experience life on the road in America with my faves! Watch out peeps – we’re all coming to America and can’t blooming wait!

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For the last few years, we have looked forward to, and very much enjoyed our day on the railway! By tradition, we go up to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway sometime between Christmas and New year with as many of Nathan’s family that are able to, and have a lovely steam train adventure in North Yorkshire!

I love to see everyone, catch up and laugh, and generally just chill out on the steam trains, and see the kids loving this ordinary and yet special moment that comes around each year.

This year we went on New years day. It was a challenge to get to Grandma’s for 9am (especially when we slept in til 8.30!), but like always, we needed to catch the mini coach that had been hired to get us there for the 11am train from Pickering up to Grosmont. And so like a scene from Home Alone, we dashed too and fro to get out the door and on the bus, with all the kids… and with a quick head count we were off!

Just so you know, having 11 kids, a handful of in laws and (at the moment) 12 grand-kids; a mini coach is the only way to travel en mass for a family day out in the Smith Family!

The Railway was quiet on the way up, and the kids not too crazy. The hills were scattered in patches of snow and the sun shone brightly. It was the perfect day to have gone, and as we trudged up the track we gazed out of the windows and chatted back and forth to one another about the lovely Christmas we had enjoyed, things we want to change and improve on and plans for the coming year.

We did our usual walk around Grosmont…exploring the quaint little station, cute shops, and walking through the long tunnel to the engine sheds. All before hopping aboard the steam train and heading back to Pickering! It was a fantastic day with everyone and each other, and a great start to our year!

Nathan’s dad was a great lover of the railway, as Ethan kept reminding us of, and so it is always sad to not have him there enjoying his favourite moments with us and his eager GrandKids! It is however always a special moment just to be together making memories, and having the opportunity to have him at the forefront of out minds and in conversation whilst we explore a place rich in his memory.

I love to see the rolling Yorkshire hills, be with family and enjoy North Yorkshire from the steam railway! Our day on the Railway is an ordinary moment we all look forward to and love… so much so, that this year we hope to take the kids again and head to Whitby on it, because it is THAT great!

 

The Ordinary Moments
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Sometimes it is the spontaneous, and very ordinary outings we have, that become the ones that hold the moments we most treasure. And this was certainly true of our little adventure on Saturday.

We had various plans and things to do on Saturday, and yet at 1pm we found ourselves doing none of them, and instead heading up to Sewerby Park (over in Bridlington) for a nice walk and some family time. We decided with the weather being nice, that they could see the animals there, play on the park, and generally just enjoy a little wander together.


Up on the cliff tops and overlooking the bay, it is a place we have visited numerous times and love….An ordinary part of my childhood and now an ordinary part of theirs. A place full of lovely memories and ordinary moments, nature and beauty, and something for us all. Of course when they realised where we were they burst with excitement to be there!

 Alice however is a bit of newbie to Sewerby Park, and whilst she probably came with us as little baby on previous visits, she certainly wouldn’t have remembered or gotten much out of it. I found that this time it meant we had an opportunity to see it all with new eyes and see it from her perspective. The kids enjoyed pointing things out and coaxing her to see things they thought she would love! It started when I decided to let her out of the buggy to explore with her siblings, we were in no rush and I wanted to let her wander to see what she did – She wandered around, not after them, but on her own, and loved her new found freedom. It was so lovely to watch her, and then to watch them all together; Ethan and Megan trying so hard to coax her in to following them! It provided several moments I wanted to bottle up and treasure forever.

She wandered to the animals and shouted as if we’d never seen them before, and wandered with eyes wide, in awe at the sounds, the sky and the world around her. She wandered from pen to pen on a mission, with her little finger pointing as she went, and then so expressive as she peered in at the animals behind each fence…. “oooing” and “Ahhhhhing”!

She wandered her own way and at her own pace and I had no choice but to follow and allows her her independence.

 There is always something lovely about going to familiar places filled with wonderful memories, and these are made more when you can see and appreciate them with fresh eyes. It’s crazy to think how quickly time is going and how fast Alice is growing and changing. I feel we are now in this wandering stage… exploring all we can and taking in the sights and sounds of the world. It takes a little longer, but I love these moments when we can slow down and remember how great the ordinary stages and moments are. This little wanderer certainly brings so much to our lives and our family with each step she takes in a new direction, and with each new thing she points out to us.

The Ordinary Moments
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I’ve had this post in my drafts for quite a while (since the Summer to be exact). And whilst we have entered a new season, I still very much wanted to preserve and share this moment from the Summer, and just generally remember how joyful it was for little Megsie.

Megan has loved adored animals for as long as I can remember and since understanding about careers and jobs, she has told people she wants to be a Vet (or a farmers wife with 100 babies)! When Ethan went off to preschool she would ask weekly to go to the farm, and even now her ideas for birthday treats and family outings involve zoos, Sea life or animal parks. Her life very much revolves around animals, and so of course they featured several times on our Summer bucket list,.  . And it was on the last day of the summer holidays we chose to go to the Animal Park and Bird of Prey centre at Park Rose Village, Bridlington and finally accomplished the farm goal!

Here we anticipated we’d enjoy a lovely day out together, seeing the usual farm animals, along with the added bonus of birds of prey and reptiles. What we didn’t anticipate though (and what was the real highlight), was that we would have an opportunity to get up close to the Wallaby’s and have a go at feeding them! Park Rose let visitors get hands on with feeding times and animal handling through out the day and it was such an exciting and fun thing to do with the kids.

  

We arrived about 10ish and so were right on time for feeding the wallaby’s at 11 after looking round the park! It was something Megan was absolutely keen to do and over the moon about. It was fun for us all but an especially beautiful moment to see our little animal lover sat on a log making friends with some wallaby’s! She was so patient and still… so engrossed and at ease. She didn’t squeal or flinch like some of the kids did, and she didn’t tire and just lob it at them across the pen (again like some other kids did!). Instead she looked at them longingly, and waited and waited patiently and quietly taking it all very seriously. It was then that she was able to put them at ease too and make friends with the wallaby’s (as she told us afterwards) and enjoy some extra ordinary moments feeding them.

Located just outside of Bridlington it is only 20minutes for us now, and was a very reasonable family day out at only £20 for us all to get in. It isn’t vast but it is very unique, has some great things to do, and you can come and go all day with the same ticket if you wish. They also have a Groupon on at the moment for Kids to have a hands on experience with the Birds or Meerkats … if you don’t want to pay extra then just go along as a regular visit like we did (maybe this half term?) and in the mornings you can feed the Wallaby’s, handle reptiles and watch the nutty Emu’s dance around their pen!

 Seasonal Bucket lists are a great way to involve the whole families interests in outings and activities. They are a way for kids to try new things as well as doing the things they love too. I find them an excellent way to show appreciation for that season, give us some focus, and create habits of seasonal appropriate activities for the whole family. For Autumn we hope to (and have already done) …

2017 Autumn Bucket List

Bake Ginger bread
Make an Apple Pie 

Go on a Spooky Walk 
Go to a Halloween Party (or 2)
Watch a spooky movie together
Go to a fair
Go to a Bonfire & Watch some fireworks
Write our names with Sparklers 
Make something using things from Nature 
Build a fire and snuggle round it 
Go out for Hot chocolate
See a windmill

Climb a mountain 
Go on a Bike Ride
Collect Conkers

Go to a Pumpkin Farm 
Carve Pumpkins
Go on a muddy nature walk
Eat warm Soup

What traditions do you enjoy in the Autumn?

*This is not a sponsored post! 
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