We only planned one day in Vegas, partly because people said it wasn’t that great to take kids to, but mainly because we saw it as a good stop over on our way home to LAX. We planned for half a day and one night and thought with that arrangement we could see enough to say we had been and get a feel for it, and if it wasn’t so great, we were only there for a few hours before heading out to Cali for our flight home!

It turns out however that Vegas is mint, and not did we love it but Ethan still says now that he wants to live there! We actually wish we had scheduled in a couple of days there, and had been able to do more because we all totally loved it. Yes it was rather sketchy in places, very busy, and smelt like weed in most places, but mainly it was absolutely fabulous. We were all amazed by the strip, and we really hope that we can return again in the not too distant future!

We stayed in the Hotel Rio which is located off the strip, but still in walking distance. This hotel is MASSIVE! And even had a zipwire you can pay to go on across the two buildings. The rooms were also massive (considered more as “suites”), and ours had twin queen beds, a corner sofa, dressing area, bathroom and lovely views! It was £76 for the night for all 5 of us, and we also had to pay a resort fee of £35 upon arrival which is normal to all Vegas hotels! It wasn’t the cheapest, but was value for money!

Vegas with kids 

I get that to some people seeing Vegas with kids is not doing it right! But we have always been of the opinion that our kids will not stop us from seeing the wonders of the world, and having kids along for the adventure just means you get to see it from a different angle! So here is what Vegas looked like for us with our 3 kids!

Pool – Most hotels have pools in Vegas, but for us this was a must to feel like “a proper holiday”! The pool at hotel Rio was great for all of the kids as it gradually got deeper, and the waterfall feature added a little extra fun! Once we had checked in, it was getting on to 5pm so I took the kids down to the pool whilst Nathan did online check in in preparation for the next day. It was cooler than we hoped, but warm enough for a good hour or so in the pool to play and chill after the long drive down from Utah.

Strip by night – after we had bought some budget pizzas from little caesars for dinner (we were skint by this point and this was where we saw the shady Vegas), we drove down the whole strip to show the kids what Vegas was all about! They were going nuts and absolutely loved it as we passed by each enchanting theme and part of the world!

Driving down the strip at night was busy, but nowhere near as busy as if we had walked it. It worked well driving because it meant we could cover it all in a shorter space of time, and also meant that all 3 kids were tucked safely in the car and we could see everything without worrying about where they were in the crowds. Vegas is so cool by night with all of its fancy lights and night life and even seeing by car is a fun experience!

Walking the strip in the morning – Before we set off to Los Angeles the next morning, we decided that we wanted to get closer to some of the famous spots on the Las Vegas Strip that we had seen the previous night. Nathan wasn’t as bothered as Ethan and I were (he was keen to get to LA), and so he waited in the car with Alice down near the Luxor and we (Ethan, Megan and I) hopped out at New York, New York and walked a little bit of it!

It was about 7.30am and whilst there were a few people around (some rather questionable), it was a really good time of day to explore with the kids, because it was so quiet and not too hot! We saw New York, New York, Hershey, Excalibur (apparently where we are staying next time?!) and Luxor (which I loved)!

It’s like a giant toy town, and was quite the little adventure and a great goodbye to our flying Vegas stay!

Shows – We planned on taking the kids to see the light show at The Mirage, but due to time restraints, tired kids, and us choosing to drive the strip instead of walking it, this didn’t pan out! This and others are on our bucket list for next time!

M&M’s – We love M&Ms and hoped we would have time to see the huge shop too, but as we were late getting into Vegas with the traffic (there was an accident), we were sad to not do this either, but from what we heard before we went, and saw from a distance, I think it would be great for kids!

On to LA…

From Vegas to L.A we had just a 4 hour drive. Our flight wasn’t until 5pm, and so we had planned on an early start with hopes of getting there by lunch, and thus giving us enough time to see a few things before making our way to the airport home to London! It was the last leg of what had been an epic road trip, and so was quite easy going, and as we hadn’t had chance to see much on our very first day due to rain, we hoped to squeeze in a couple of famous sights when we made it to Los Angeles. It was this excitement that kept our feet heavy to the pedal and helped us make good time!

The journey was fine, and after we made it to L.A. we of course got stuck in so much traffic! Apparently traffic in Hollywood is bad at the best of times, but it was also Spring break and so we were going nowhere fast! In the end, we only managed a quick cruise through Hollywood, some snaps of the sign, and that was all!

It was Ethan that noticed the sign first and we are all super excited to see it in real life – such an iconic place and we were there! It was brilliant!

The flight home was fine (minus a meltdown on take off from Alice), and jet lag hit us hard, but Air New Zealand were fab and this holiday completely wonderful!

We hoped to see the Ocean and famous beaches of LA, the Hollywood Boulevard and more friends in Utah. And whilst this was a little disappointing, we look back on all of the things we saw and experienced; all of the beauty of dessert, canyons and mountains, and all of the people we hugged and spent time with. We look back on all of the sunshine we had, the snow storms and the yummy treats we enjoyed, during our 2 weeks in the states and wonder how on earth we could ever be disappointed? It was an incredible adventure, filled with memories to last a lifetime.

From California to Arizona, through the Grand Canyon and on to Utah, and back Via Vegas, we drove over 2,000 miles, listened to “The Greatest Showman” Soundtrack 100’s of times and had an epic road trip together! Of course we want to return and do more of what we loved, and see all of the things we didn’t get a chance to see (and more), but for now we are still loving talking about our adventures in America, and are all so grateful to have enjoyed such a wonderful family holiday Stateside!

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The second leg of our road trip took us from Arizona to Utah. The last time I wrote of our holiday in the USA I was up to the part where we had had an epic day at the Grand Canyon prior to setting off up to St George for the night – you can read about that all here.

So yes – We left The Grand Canyon and made our way to St George, where we had a hotel booked for a nights stay, before driving up to the Salt Lake area to spend a week with Family and Friends. This particular night of driving, which took us through the Canyon, was long and felt the hardest part of our Journey. We were pretty tired, there were not a lot of places to stop and get food, and the Reservation/Dessert at night-time is more than a little scary.

We finally made it to our Hotel around midnight and flopped into bed. I was pretty sick that night with something I had eaten for lunch (Wendy’s Chilli) and it was all a bit of a rough/long night! Thankfully by early afternoon the next day, and lots of water, I felt mostly myself again!

The hotel was a bargain at £60 for the night (inc a buffet breakfast) and was such a lovely room we had. We all rested well after the adventures of the previous day, and after said yummy breakfast, we had a lovely little wander around the LDS Temple and Visitors centre in St George.

After our brief visit, we hit the road again and made the almost 5 hour journey from St George to Provo (pit stop) and then onto Herriman where we had our base for the week with Nathan’s cousin. We saw a friend on the way, loved the snow capped mountains and bough a huge pizza for lunch from a tiny place owned by an Amish family!

Once in Utah it felt like home from home. It was so lovely to see everyone, catch up and chat, and whilst we were obviously on holiday, staying with family and seeing friends at parks and out for dinner, all just felt so very natural and normal. Both Nathan and I have been to Utah before, and so we were both comfortable in our surroundings and knew of all of the places we wanted to take the kids to. Looking back, our week in Utah was a good balance of days out/Touristy things, and chilling and reunions with our lovely family and friends!

Temple Square

Our first day there we felt pretty well rested and were very keen to take the kids up to Temple Square in Salt Lake City (and they were pretty keen to go). It is a special place in our religion, and an impressive place generally for people to walk around and see. We knew that there would be plenty to see and do to fill the day! We met some cousins/2nd cousins, and whilst it was a little nuts navigating the kids in a busy place, it turned out to be such a lovely time together.

We took them first to The Lion House – an historic house where one of our early Prophets lived, and then onto the Churches office building where you can take a tour to the top and look over the city from the roof! Both were super exciting and interesting places, and the views from the Church Administration building were stunning!

From here we walked around the outside of the Salt Lake temple, and then across the road to the conference centre (and then back again to the Visitors centre). It obviously took way longer than we anticipated with all of kids in tow, but they loved it and we had a really lovely and memorable family day out!

If you are ever in Salt Lake it’s a good tour to take and place to visit – you don’t have to be Mormon to look around it, and all of it is super interesting about our Church History and beliefs.

Wheeler Historic Farm

Wheeler Historic Farm was such a lovely day out that we did, again with cousins and extended family. It was a hot day, and started off with a big family picnic at the park next to it – It ended with us getting shakes and root beer floats!

Wheeler farm is a FREE farm, which was such a novelty, and it felt very much like an American TV set for an old farm movie! I loved it all, and as we wandered around looking at old machinery and the few animals that they have there, it was so pretty and fun for all. I was excited to see you could have a milking cows experience for just a few dollars, but unfortunately for me and my bucket list, it was later than we planned on staying until! The kids however enjoyed a wagon ride behind the tractor for just $2 each… another great day out filled with fun, adventures, family and fresh air.

Conference and Easter Weekend

After a few days out and gallivanting around places of interest (half of which we never actually went to) it was Easter weekend, and for us as members of the LDS church – our semi annual conference weekend too. This felt such a novelty to be in Utah for this, as we were able to get tickets to go to a live session of it, as opposed to our usual watching of it at home online!

We did watch most of it with his Cousin on their TV, but then on the Sunday morning Nathan and I had the opportunity to go back up to Salt Lake City and go to the morning session of conference. It was a beautiful sunny Easter Sunday, and we began by seeing “Music and The Spoken word” by the Mormon Tabernacle choir. This was breathtakingly beautiful and made me feel so happy to be there with my love!

The session itself was as inspiring and uplifting as we imagined it would be, and it was a real highlight for us both on this part of our holiday.

It felt a little strange to be away from home during Easter – mainly because I missed scoffing down a big chocolate egg whilst in my PJs! But Naths cousin did a lovely egg hunt in the garden for the kids, where they had little sweeties in plastic eggs. And then on Easter Sunday evening, when we got back from Conference, we gathered with his cousins for a lovely Easter dinner and plenty of laughs!

Reunions

I have a lot of friends in Utah that I lived with when I was over there and who mean a lot to me. We keep in touch on social media, and now other apps too, and it is such a blessing to remain a part of each others lives even though we live so many miles apart.

I was so excited to see them all (and relieved that it felt “just like yesterday”) when we met up on various occasions. We had so much to talk about, so many laughs to have, and we shared many delicious meals from “Chick-Fil-A” (which we got “on the house” because we were British!!) to fake cafe rio at a gathering in our honour. We had park days with the kids, chilling at houses and I felt so happy being with such treasured friends, individuals and family.

Reunions both with my friends, and with Nath’s family are what made our visit to Utah so wonderful and special. We wish we could see those faces and hang out with them far more than we are able, but we love living in England and their homes and hearts are in the states. But we will always treasure the time we get to hang out when they visit us or we can visit them – We hope that this is more frequent than it has been, as we treasure these experiences and memories!

Thanks Utah – for cheapo Root beers, More Costco Pizza, Chick-fil-a, Thai food, Five Guys, fake Cafe Rio, delish home cooked meals, and lots of love and laughs! It was a fabulous week and Easter Weekend, and we loved seeing everyone!

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I can’t believe I am already thinking about, and talking about Christmas cards, but hey ho – here we are in October doing just that. I personally blame school…you see, just last week our school sent out the annual “get your kids artwork made into Christmas cards” forms, accompanied with some rather lovely work from the kids, and whilst I find it a lovely idea (and want to support the school), I was thinking that perhaps this year we might opt for something a little different! Of course with saying that I do feel slightly guilty that they won’t be getting a £1.50 donation from us, (or that my kids can’t hand over an overpriced card with their art work on) but I look forward to giving something a little classier from The Smiths, and have instead been checking out the holiday cards available from Basic Invite.

Being Christians I find Christmas the perfect opportunity to spread the true spirit of Christmas to friends, family and neighbours. Although my kids art work is most lovely, it doesn’t quite share the message from our family to others about what Christmas means to us, and what well wishes we hope for them.

With this in mind I especially loved the “Peace on Earth” foil invites with a lovely message. I like the idea of friends and family having an up to date picture of us all looking half decent, looking joyful and making the most of life! I like the idea of personalising that with a heartfelt message of love in a season where hope, Joy and peace ring true.

Their Foil holiday cards are available in gold, silver, and rose gold, and you can choose flat or raised foil on all of the Basic Invite’s foil designs. I find them so beautiful, unique and Christmassy!

I also loved the fold out ones where you can send a little synopsis of each season and what you’ve all been up to. Time flies so quick, and the kids are forever changing… what a beautiful way to capture the moments of the year and share them with relatives and friends we don’t see too much.

The more I think about it though, I am rather tempted to dress the kids up in a Nativity scene with the card saying “O Holy Night” or something similar (wouldn’t that be fun?)!!! My mind is basically buzzing with ideas, and I think when Mr Smith gets wind of it, he may just have to reign me in a little!

Its such an exciting time of year, and whilst Christmas has been a tough one for us, things like this keep me distracted and are a lovely thing to share with others!

Whatever your style, beliefs or hopes for the “Holidays”, you can send a more personalised message and unique card (or Party invite) to friends and family with the simple and easy to use card editor at Basic invite. They are one of the few websites that enable you to customise with an almost unlimited colour palette, and the option to order a sample to see and feel the quality and design before placing your final order (handy!). As well as this I love that you can chose from 40 different envelopes, and then by linking your social media, can capture friends and families addresses to be printed on the envelopes at no extra cost!

What’s even more exciting (and here’s the thrifty part) is that they currently have 30% off when you use code holi30 (If you are ordering from the UK then check the box in the top right titled “currency” to GBP so you can see the cost of your order in £’s).

It might be a little soon to be talking Christmas/Holiday cards, but with a 30% saving we can make an exception!

*Sponsored Post

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