Here we are at the end of April and what a month it has been – super busy and filled with adventures, a 10.5 hour flight, Jet lag, madness with 2 cousins sleepovers, and a week of glorious sunshine (remember that?!). We started this month off in the USA and our pictures this month are of us on the Vegas Strip – it was a brilliant day and feels like so long ago now!

When April began we were in Utah enjoying the Spring sunshine, and a lovely Easter Sunday with family. 2 days later we went on to Vegas, before heading to LA and home again to the UK! It was such an epic adventure to share together (that you can read more about in part 1 of our USA holiday ) and Vegas was such a fun place to visit, that we wish we had scheduled in more time to be there and see more things! It was a great place for kids and an excellent way to end our 2 weeks in the USA. We all miss the root beer, hanging with friends and family, the heat and just our general adventures. I love these pictures though because they reflect how much fun we were having, and how relaxed we all were chilling in the states together.

Once we had returned and taken a good week to recover from jetlag, life resumed as normal and we welcomed some routine and less fast food in our diet. Id say that the kids struggled that first week back after Easter with a lot of tiredness but it didn’t do them any harm in the long run as Megan had star pupil 2 weeks ago, and Ethan has gone up another reading level. He is doing really well with school his work, and after a now resolved incident with another kid last week, he is a lot happier too which is great.

We loved that heatwave week we had – the sunshine just puts everyone in a good mood and I always feel so much more motivated. Alice and I especially had some wonderful adventures to the seaside to make the most of the sun and had plenty of ice cream and walks with friends! She is doing great at the moment and is so much more interactive with us all. Instead of pointing and grunting to get her own way, she is talking more and loves being in the midst of mayhem with Ethan and megan. They seem to find her more and more entertaining as her speech and character develop’s and it’s lovely as parents to see her fun and loving side coming out (as well as their growing love and fondness for her).

Megan is doing really good at the moment with her gymnastics, and wowed everyone with her awesome moves on Friday night at the churches talent show…she makes us laugh so much and she loves to perform for us and make up crazy dances. Both her and Ethan were keen to perform in the Church talent show, and with Megan’s (improv) dance, and Ethan’s singing, it was both hilarious and a very proud moment!

Both Ethan and Megan very much into the “Match attax” trend, and doing odd jobs for cash so as to build up their collection’s. It’s funny how things do full circle as I remember the same from our childhood and it’s funny how into them they are! Once home from school I rarely see either of them as the lighter nights have meant they have enjoyed a lot of playing out with their pals (one of the things I really love about living here). Myself and the other mum’s have a “what’s app group” so as to keep tabs on them all, and I always think what a vast difference it is to their Spring/Summer evenings when we lived in Leeds!

A couple of weeks ago we cleared out our garden and garage, decluttered a few other things and had a massive tip run in hopeful preparation to start putting our stamp on this house (it’s only taken a year), but the less cluttered garden has meant a lot of friends end up playing here too, and that’s also lovely!

This month has also been good for Mr Smith and I, as we managed to squeeze in a date out as oppose to a take out and Netflix… and I have been doing a lot more in raising awareness for Stillbirth and baby loss with Channel 5, as well as getting on with my course in preparation to finish in June!

It’s been such a random and extraordinary month, and in addition to our holiday over Easter we have also managed to squeeze in a trip to the circus, explore historic houses and churches in this area, and then just this weekend…have a rather eventful Saturday in Hull city centre visiting a couple of cool museums with our 3 nephews in tow!

Next month will be a whole year since we moved, then its into June with Megan turning 6 and lots of family birthdays. We are excited for May… with a couple of bank holidays in there, half term, and hopefully lots more adventures and joyful times!

This Month we are grateful for

Our Epic America trip
Returning home safely and drama free
A tip run and tidier garage/garden
Enthusiastic kids
An opportunity to share Poppy and our story
Family (for helping us out with childcare)
A week of glorious sunshine
MInt chocolate Ben & Jerry’s
A trip to the circus
Living close to the seaside
A village in full bloom for Spring!
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Our Family in March have travelled about 6,600 miles in the last 10 days. We have flown across the atlantic for 11 hours (yes all 5 of us), and then driven across 3 states of America, seeing everything from giant cacti and Native American hieroglyphs, to the Grand Canyon and Salt Lake City Temple – to name a few! We have had blazing hot sunshine and snow storms, and eaten stacks of pancakes, lots of Pizza’s, and are drinking root beer galore! The kids love that they have been allowed chocolate cereal here and chocolate milk and “Soda” – it’ been epic as basically all of the things we say no to at home, we may have said yes to on this holiday, and of course they have absolutely been loving it!

 So yes… with treats and travels, this month has been quite the adventure for the Smiths!

This month we have so many gorgeous and special pictures of our family, it was hard to choose which ones to use. People have been eager to capture us all together and I have loved it, because I have loved all of this time we have had together as a family. It has felt such a treat to spend so much time with Nathan, and to have hours of driving to have some great chats together. We have seen some incredible things and I am grateful that we have been able to share them as a family, creating wonderful memories!

The pictures I have chosen were all taken last week when we were in Mesa Arizona. The hiking ones are when we went with my friend and his kids to Superstition mountains and walked up to some Native American Indian hieroglyphs. It was only a 4 mile round trip but going up hill in hot weather was a little bit of a challenge, but then the incredible drawings in the rocks, and the views and scenery made it so worth it – They were just fantastic and super cool!

During the hike Megan had a run in with a giant cactus (true story), and ended up having to have the spikes pulled out of her leg. It was rather sore, but she was brave and it didn’t bother her too much. Towards the end she skidded on the rocks and grazed her arm and knees, so it was certainly a day to remember complete with scars to prove it! I loved being out in the desert together – the views and scenery were amazing – and we loved the history of the location. Ethan had a blast climbing up rocks and exploring with the little boy that came with us, and he was totally in his element all day.

The other picture I have chosen were taken at the LDS Mesa Temple where we went to see the visitors centre and have a walk around the beautiful grounds, and then the other was outside this cute little pancake house we had breakfast at before we left to drive to the Grand Canyon.

The Mesa Temple is an iconic spot in Mesa, and it is where I had the privilege of serving an 18 month mission for our church back in 2006 – 2007. The same day the picture was taken we had fun playing in the splash pad in the park opposite, and then a picnic tea on the grass with our friends whilst we watched the annual Easter pageant. It has been 10 years since I was there but it was great to reminisce and soak it all in.

Mesa was such a great few days, with great people and an opportunity for us as a family to experience a glimpse of what my life was like when I lived there. I just loved being back and seeing everyone, but ultimately sharing it with Nathan and the kids.

Before we left on this trip Nathan and I had a great night out with several couples in the village to celebrate our next door but 1 neighbours 40th! It was a lot of fun as it was great to chat and get to know everyone better and dance, and generally socialise in the village. It was also great as it was a 20’s theme and so we were able to dress up and have some laughs. It felt lovely to become more a part of our neighbourhood and made us feel even more settled than we already did.

it was also great to see both Ethan and Megan go up a reading level at school, and also have a really positive parents evening too. It was good to come away and leave as things felt mostly in a positive place, and the things that didn’t (I had a low period following mothers day and a few other things) were soon in a distant memory as we immersed ourselves in our travels.

The kids have had their moments here on holiday, but mostly they have been so brilliant with all of the people we have seen and all of the driving we have done. It’s been so tiring, and of course that at times has been way too much for them (and us), but ultimately they have been great and we have had a great March. It ‘s weird to not be having Easter in England, and therefore no tasty big chocolate eggs, but  this month will be long remembered as the ultimate adventure for us all.

 I love that we still have another few days running into April to build more memories and see more exciting things together here in the states. I love our little crew – this family we have made and built, and I love that we are not afraid to take the plunge and see the world together… it has been so fun and joyful and a great month for us!

This Month We Are Grateful For…

Safety whilst travelling
US family and friends (and some free accomodation with them)
Root beer
Water in the desert
Sunshine
Beautiful Desert scenery
Cheap “Gasoline”
Our cool rental car
Our holiday in America
New friends
Hardworking kids
Great Neighbours
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Like many places across the country today, we are ending February on a rather snowy note! The village looks gorgeous dressed in white, and we have already had a really good walk across the fields, kitted out in all of our snow gear.  I never tire of living here and the kids are excited to the max to be able to run free in snowy fields before school!

I have really fallen in love wih snow (especially now I have the right attire) and have been hoping for a decent covering since November time, so this morning, when we woke up to lots more snow on top of yesterday’s dusting I was super pleased too! Thanks to this “big freeze” our wish for “proper snow” has finally come true, and with the later school opening time, it’s turned out to be a great last day of the month for us all.

Our pictures this month (bar 1 on the cliffes) were taken a couple of weeks ago in the grounds of our Temple in Chorely! We had an overnight stay at a nearby hotel and then spent the day there. We go rather regularly and it’s a very significant and special place for us as Mormons! On this day though I wanted to remember that with every picture we took, the kids left a space for “Poppy”! I have one of the 3 of them on their own with a gap for her, and then these family ones took me by surprise afterwards when I came to edit them, because I noticed Alice had automatically left a space too like they had been doing earlier!

They might just be a few quick, imperfect and crazy family pictures, but the space reminds me how missed Poppy is, and how special my little ones are. They are taken in a place that reminds me we have a hope of being a forever family!

It wasn’t until I sat down to write this family update for February that I realised we’ve actually had some really hearty moments this month. I thought I would be scratching my head, trying to come up with things as all I could remember was lots of rainy days and dull moments! Instead I am struggling to fit in all we have done and enjoyed together in the shortest month of the year!

The snow these last couple of days is obviously a highlight for the kids, as is us all going to see “The Greatest Showman” on Monday evening for our family night (and we haven’t stopped singing and dancing since). But we’ve also had the adventures of half term, a Valentines date to see “Coco” with the kids and their cousins, and then our cliff top walk last week. A soft play visit (wahhh) and a London visit for Ethan and I at the beginning of the month to see Pinocchio! For such a short month, February has given us a lot!

This month I have noted a huge change in Alice and she has us all laughing on a daily basis – she is so funny! Her vocab is increasing daily, as is her thoughtfulness, hysterical laughter and ability to follow instructions. She is still rather clingy (mostly with Nathan) but her little singing voice and snuggles are just the best, and as she gets older I am enjoying more and more our days together.

Megan is loving her weekly Rainbows group and has moved up a reading level too which is just great. Ethan has quit Judo this month as he realised he “doesn’t like fighting” after all! Which I was fine about as our rule is that you must try it for a term before making any rash decisions. He’s been doing it since September and at first I imagined he would be doing it for years, but the less games and more real “fighting” they have done, he has become increasingly uncomfortable with it, to the point that he didn’t want to go. Instead he wants to pursue music, so we’re currently just looking into guitar lessons and piano for him.

Ethan has also turned a corner from being the messiest child in the house to the cleanest! He has been cleaning his room all month as I said he could get a new disco light if he did… it’s a huge shock he has kept it up, but I certainly admire his determination and persistence for something he so desperately wants. I am proud he has kept to his side of the deal and it’s great to see the effort and enthusiasm to clean his room.. the Hoover is out every week and it’s wonderful to walk passed daily and see it neat and tidy, as oppose to the tat and dirty socks everywhere!

The 2 of us (Ethan and I), had a lovely trip to London at the beginning of the month and since then we have had a really good February – we have done loads, and whilst moments have been very trying, we have had some really lovely moments for our family. But of course we can’t get to the end of February and not look forward to what is coming our way in March. We are now officially into our 3 week countdown to our USA trip and are ecstatic! I have lots of chocolate to buy for our friends, and a few Summer style clothes for our ever growing kids, but other than that it’s a matter of counting down the days, packing, and looking forward to lots and lots of amazing adventures coming our way!

In February we are grateful for

*Snow
*Snow
*Snow
*Megan moving up a reading level
*Surviving a rainy half term
*Discovering “The Greatest Showman
*The Joyfullness of “The Greatest Showman” soundtrack
*Seeing friends in Leeds
*Ethan keeping his room clean all month
*Joining the RSPB
*Seeing London and Pinocchio
*Valentine’s love
*Pancakes
 
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Facebook last week reminded me that this time 3 years ago, Nathan and I were in Prague. What a great place that was and the trip itself was amazing, we carry some great memories from it. But then there’s nothing like seeing the fun of being elsewhere and the drag of January in the here and now to make you feel a great desperation for some travel, and lots of wanderlust.

And so, on the last day of the Month we decided to take the plunge and booked a 2 week vaycay in America that we’ve been talking about for months! It’s going to be epic!

It’s been on the cards for us for a while as I want to go back and show the fam where I lived in Mesa, as well as visiting a few big things too like HollyWood, the Grand Canyon and Vegas, and our family and friends in Utah! I will do either a post or Vlog about it at some point soon, because in my true thrifty style, it was a right barg! But yes, we are ending the month on an absolute high with a great trip on the Horizon for us all!

January for us, like most has been littered with some seasonal illness, new starts and hibernation! We bought a new (to us) car a couple of weeks ago and Nathan and I started to eat better and cut out Sugar. So far we have been doing great and between us have lost 10lb. I am excited for Springtime and the hope of a flatter stomach and less bulges on the sides.

Megan and Ethan finally started their swimming lessons, which we go to every Thursday and they absolutely love it. They spend most of the time with huge smiles and laughter on their faces and it’s such a delight to see, despite the mad rush getting there! Megan also started Gymnastics and Rainbows, both of which have really built her up and given her some independence.

Alice and I haven’t done a huge amount out of our ordinary, and in fact probably not even that much.

But the highlight for us all this month (aside from the epic Vay-cay coming our way) was certainly the snow and cake we enjoyed right here at home!

We had several days of scattered snow showers and then a week or so ago we had a really good covering which was a lot of fun and very pretty too. The village looks great in snow and I feel being in the countryside its all so much prettier and fresh. And then last week we welcomed friends and neighbours over for an afternoon of fun and frolic (and tasty cake) as part of a collaboration I have been working on with Baking Mad. It was so much fun and lovely to socialise with everyone and have them in our home!

January has been nothing special and no major news to report, but it has been great to get back into normal life and routines and think about our goals, plans and what we want to make happen this year. I am really excited for the year ahead and to welcome in February with new fresh moments to enjoy – Not just because its a shorter month, but because we have half term to look forward to and buckets full of love coming our way too. I really love it and all the things you can make and do together around love!

Today the sun has been shining (and feeling somewhat spring like), and that combined with 4 or 5 days of feeling weak and rubbish with a cold virus, I just can’t stop smiling at what’s to come! We are all soooo excited for a trip, for a new month and for what lies ahead in 2018 for our family. I won’t miss January but I will be thankful for it teaching me a lot about patience!

Sorry about these dreadful pics!!! I promise more lovely ones of us in the coming months!

I hope if you have had a bit of a blue January that February will be kinder and filled with love for you!

This Month we are grateful for 

Grandma Smith lending us her car whilst ours is in the garage
The cake turning out brilliantly
Our Neighbour for taking Megs to Gymnastics
Ethan being Star of the Week
Megan and Ethan starting swimming lessons
Megan starting Gymnastics and Rainbows
Mummy having more work through her blog
A USA trip to look forward to

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