As of today we are officially on the one week countdown to our Summer holidays from school and I could leap for joy! As you can imagine we are not only very tired and completely ready for this long break, but also super excited for 6 weeks of adventures and fun times together. We have been making plans with friends old and new, plans with their cousins and booked a huge family holiday to Scotland (in a castle!) towards the end of August! We have been talking about camping, beach trips, walks, museums, food and swimming. And with all of that chat, we just know that whilst it’s going to be a busy few weeks, it’s also going to be absolutely brilliant too!

I love the Summer holidays and I am especially looking forward to this years as we are now settled in our new home and lives. I have also been thinking of how we are already so very much in the Summer groove with this glorious weather we have been having. That in itself has meant that we have had lots of beach trips, country walks and adventures that have really put us in the mood for “the six weeks holidays” and helped us enjoy Summer right now in the moment! I find that Summer is such a joyful time of year and I do not fear the school holiday’s as I know some parents do – yes of course it will be tiring and nuts, but in a different way to what the school runs are and I love the freedom that time is ours!

Living where we do now, we have nature walks on our doorstep, friends in every other house (just about), and the beach a stone’s throw away. Whatever happens, or however tight money may feel some weeks, we are surrounded by potential free adventures and that fills me with more confidence than I have ever had in the lead up to the Summer Holidays and consequently makes me so happy!

With that in mind, this years Summer holiday plans are way more sporadic than how we have planned it in previous years. Last year and the year before in 2016 I wrote about how our plans for each week were very much structured and themed day by day. This year however we haven’t done that. We know what we want to do and we are going to go and do it – if not we will stay home and explore the fields or play with friends!

The only planning has been in a calendar to give an idea of when! There are lots of things we have chatted about what we want to do and lots of people we want to spend time with and so, we simply sat down together and brainstormed what everyone’s ideas were. From there we have made a spreadsheet calendar to track the possible days we can fit it all in, so that this way Mr Smith has an idea of what we plan to do (when and where) and can hopefully book some annual leave around it to join in the fun!

Last Summer was great – having a bucket list enabled us to do, see and experience so much. So yes, we now have 5 more days of school following this weekend, so whilst I sort out their worse for wear school uniforms and prepare to tackle one more week of school runs, I will leave you with our 2018 Summer Bucket list – perhaps it will inspire you?!

Summer Bucket List 2018

Go Camping (more than once)
Go to Flamingo Land
Go Swimming with Slides
Play Pirate Golf
Climb a Mountain
Swim in a river
Go to The Deep
Rock Pooling on Filey Brigg
Medical Museum in Leeds
Tropical World in Leeds
Chatsworth House
A boat ride
Fort Paull
Dalby Forest
Go to Scotland with the Family
Toast Marshmallows & make smores
Withernsea Lighthouse and Spurn Point
Williams Den
Play in the Water fountains in Hull
A countryside walk
Have a picnic in a field
Wharram Percy
Build Sandcastles
Eat a Waffle on the Harbour
Eat Ice cream sundaes at the seaside
Go on some seaside rides
Ride the Steam Train to Whitby
Play on Grandma’s water slide and make pizzas in her garden
Go to Scarborough

 

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Sunshine, sunshine and more sunshine – how good for the soul this last weeks weather has been. I have loved it and feel excited that we have more ahead of us. This week has been nothing spectacular – our usual day to day routines and chores, but we did have a sneaky picnic on Tuesday for lunch which made it feel a little less ordinary.

I love that the kids school allow them to have home lunch, and so with the weather and this new info, I went and picked them up Tuesday and we had a mad hour on the park and eating a picnic lunch together before I returned them to school for the afternoon!

Grateful For 

This week I have been grateful for the sun, for living closer to the coast and for a date night to the cinema with Nath on Friday night. After a crazy week we went to see Ocean’s 8 and both really enjoyed the time together to be out alone together and the film itself – we kinda like those heist type films!

Succeeded At 

I succeeded at getting Alice some new shoes (she is already VERY fussy) and finishing off our dining table – I painted it and added a colourful table cover as it felt to plain for me! I am pleased with how it looks.

Found beauty In 

The kids chatting to Poppy at her grave and loving her new memorial stone. The beautiful countryside as I walked to soft play and back this week. And the beautiful blue sea as we went to the coast Friday and Saturday evening! I took the kids on their bikes on the train – we were supposed to go swimming but as the adult to kid ratio wasn’t on point, we instead had a walk/bike ride along the prom, played pirate golf and then went to grandma’s house! It was such a lovely evening with my kids and they were super well behaved. I loved being out and about with them and having fun together!

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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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The main goal of our recent holiday in Tuscany was to relax, get some sunshine and visit the beach. We had lush sunshine and it was over 30 degrees everyday, but aside from a couple of beach trips, the trip was far from the easy relaxing trip we anticipated. It was jam packed with adventures, whining kids, late nights, pasta, and despite the madness, we still had a brilliant adventure in a wonderful part of the world.

Flying to Pisa and our Air B&B

We flew to Pisa airport in the evening of the Wednesday from Leeds/Bradford, and arrived around 11pm, so it was a late one but the kids coped well fuelled by excitement and the bag of Haribo they talked me into at the petrol station on the way! We stayed overnight in a guest house just down the road from the airport, and then picked up our rental car the next morning. We had booked an Air bnb in a village called Buti, which is just a little drive outside of Pisa, nestled in beautiful mountains and olive groves. It far exceeded our expectations and was simply stunning!

The house was part of a large farm house, nestled up the side of a mountain and surrounded by groves of olive trees dirt tracks and animals! We had our own balcony, modern interior and the neighbours were cute old Italian locals!

As it was a farm, the kids had freedom to see the animals, and especially enjoyed the new pups which the visited daily (once letting out the mum – don’t ask!!!). Up the track, was a tiny 13th century church, and at every turn was beauty and amazing views across the valley.  We has pomegranate trees, citrus, figs, bamboo, and at nighttime only heard the crickets and farm animals – it was most idyllic and one of the bonuses of going through Air bnb when you travel.

The Beach and Genoa

On our 3rd day we were finally settled in and ready for some sand and sea. By recommendation we drove a little ways up from Pisa to a gorgeous part of Italy known as “Chinque Terre”. We went to both Lavento and Vernazza and found it to be a beautiful coastline with quaint little streets and colour everywhere, and the smell of muscles, baked breads and garlic! 

We did a lot of driving up steep windy mountain roads and the whole experience was surreal and breathtakingly beautiful!

As we were only an hour way from Genoa, and it being a place Nathan really wanted to go to, we deiced to drive a little further north in the afternoon and spend a couple of hours there. Of course my kids were the rowdy ones, wading through the fountains when we got there, but I am glad we went because it was a really lovely city. The fountains were spectacular (and very inviting), and it was great to see history at every turn and amazing architecture … Christopher Columbus house was small but cool to stand on the forecourt of, and just to be in a place he lived, pondering upon his life and legacy! 

This day ended with the kids swimming in the sea at 10pm – perfection!

Florence and Lake Bilancino

The next day we drove to Florence, which I had high expectations for. I dont know why but its one of those cities people talk a lot about. It was a great city and had beautiful architecture yes, but wasn’t my fave. There was lots to see if you were willing to pay (which we didn’t see the point of with our rowdy crew), but being only 45 minutes from our house, it was certainly worth an afternoon to just wander and see the city as a whole. The kids found a carousel and we just took it easy admiring the buildings and cathedral. 

On the way home we took a different route and called by Lake Bilancino. It was beautiful, clear, turquoise and warm, and a lovely evening spent paddling and chilling together. I think next time it would be fun to spend a day there and do some water sports or just have a picnic, but we found to be a lovely spot enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. 

Pisa

Finally we saw Pisa and it was brilliant … we saw it Sunday afternoon following church and was totally worth the wait. Everything about it was charming and exciting and I had a lot of fun there. We did all of the cliche tower pics and it was a place that really impressed the kids too. Site seeing can sometimes be a challenge with kids, especially when its more old stuff in the blazing sunshine, but Pisa really grasped their attention and they loved it. We went into the cathedral, which was free and then walked around the little streets… it was a great 4 or 5 hours!

Pisa also has some great beaches and a park too that are very family friendly and we spent some time at these too later in our stay. The park in Pisa in on an archaeological site and has pretty little gardens as well as a play area that is well equipped. We spent a few hours here before flying home, and it was a nice relaxing morning and fun for the kids too.

The beach we went to near Pisa was on our last day and was quite busy but a great spot all the same. We found a little patch of sand amongst the other visitors to nestle down in for a couple of hours to chill, dig and swim. It had man made walls to make it into a large outdoor pool which at the deepest point was only up to Ethan’s neck! Pisa has a lot of currents so this ensured it was safe and the depth made it easier and more fun for families. It was a lovely beach and lovely afternoon soaking up far too much sun!

Tuscany is the perfect destination for a family trip, but also a place I would love to go just Nath and I. It has a great balance of beach, history and nature and is in great proximity to visit a whole host of famous and breathtaking sites. We paid just over £600 for our flights and accommodation, and I would definitely recommend hiring a car to make the most of your visit and turn it into the ultimate adventure.

I loved our week in Tuscany – the food, our little farm house, the adventures, the sun. But mostly the company and the memories made there. It was the ultimate adventure and a great Summer holiday! 

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