Tomorrow our summer holidays officially start and whilst I have a sneaky feeling several days will be complete madness, I can not wait for some summer fun with the kids! As I look ahead over these next few weeks of hopefully long hot summer days and lots of adventures with them, I am reminded of a couple of summers ago, when whilst pregnant with Poppy, a spontaneous beach trip turned into a tyre blow out and being stranded with 2 kids, no food and a lot of heat, at the side of a country lane. The time it took to have my sister come save us, get the wheel fixed and be back on the road, we had to get home again and were all well and truly gutted to have missed out on a fun day with grandma at the seaside.

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For a few weeks now we have had on the fridge door a whole months worth of plans for the kids and I to enjoy and make the most of this years summer holidays. I know from looking which days we will need a picnic, which days we will stay home, approximate expenditure and the days we need to drop some texts in advance to hopefully have friends or cousins join us. I am a planner and I like to be in control and know whats happening. It makes life easier to organise the kids and be confident in what I am doing as mother, its even more important to me now that I have a new born baby to have some kind of plan so that I know what I am doing day to day to avoid stress. The mistake I made 2 summers ago was not that I decided to be spontaneous and go against the plan, it was that I hadn’t or rather we as a family hadn’t planned properly for summer generally. Its easy to plan picnics and day trips, throw in the sun hats and cream, plan to take extra clothing or wellies etc, but one thing many of us miss is making sure the car is ready for summer, after all it is that that is doing all the work in getting us safely to our adventures and home again. I learn’t just 2 years ago after driving for almost 10 years that there is something known as winter and summer tyres and that day when I took my wheel with its battered tyre on to the garage I not only had to pay a premium but was made aware that we in fact had a winter tyre on and this wasn’t suitable for the increase in heat for the summer, thus causing a blow out and potentially dangerous situation for us all, especially when just 20minutes previous we had been on the busy M62!!!

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I recently found a website called “Point-S” where they make it extremely straight forward to buy cheap tyres suitable for your car and the season we are in (take a look its pretty great). I cannot tell you enough how scary and generally inconvenient that day was, and each summer since I have thought about it and pondered on what might have happened. As a mother I think how we protect our kids from the sun, from the dangers of water, and strangers, when all along we could be driving in dangerous conditions because we have over looked the tyre situation on our car for summer.
So to avoid a summers day stranded with your kids or risking the safety of you all whilst out and about, check the car and check the tyres before you are planning budgets, outfits, picnics and outings and lets all have an amazing chilled, fun and safe summer !

*This is a collaborative post

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Yaayyy Summer is officially here; a happy and bright time of year filled with long lazy days, no school, spontaneity, adventures, ice creams, picnics, and lots of outdoor fun! It is a season I love as things in life just slow down a bit, days are more flexible and yet whilst they seem to be so relaxed they also feel so fulfilling and so much gets accomplished, I love it…Now if the sun would just remember this and consistently show its face (like the glorious weather we saw yesterday), so that we can actually make wonderful things happen (and maybe get a little tannage too), then life would be GRAND!

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I have found that the kids recently have been asking a lot about particular things they want to do, and places they want to go to together, and in response, I find myself saying to them “yes lets definitely do that in the holidays”! I guess that’s the new vocab in me as a School mum now, and perhaps a little because I am so tired with pregnancy too, but when you have so much less freedom and are bound by term time/school holidays it really is hard to do it all. So as to keep my promise, not forget and make the most of Summer 2016 (with a newborn!!!) we sat down together whilst daddy was out at football and again whilst getting ready for school and discussed some ideas of what they really wanted to do in the holidays, and then from there made our summer bucket list!

And here is what they said….

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I really loved seeing them both ponder on what they love to do and return to, as well as what they’d like to do/try…their excited little faces as they threw the ideas out was a really wonderful moment!
I limited it to 10 ideas each so that it is attainable, and then we will add in park trips, lazy days, National Trust and spontaneous invites from friends. I am so impressed with their ideas and its great that some of them will be able to be accomplished on rainy days, some are local and will enable them to see and spend time with school friends or cousins too, others will easily be ticked off all in a visit to see my parents and then thankfully only a few will take a little more planning which is such a relief…especially as I will have a new baby in tow and potentially solo parenting whilst Nath is at work! I am so looking forward to making the most of the school Summer holidays and having some family fun together to meet their wishes. I can’t wait to make this a reality with them both and enjoy a new chapter together! Keep shining Sun we have lots to look forward to…

What are your plans for the Summer Hols? 

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My oh my where has the sunshine gone? I am pretty disappointed by the miserable showers we have been getting here in Yorkshire and so very much wish Summer would please return. Last weeks high 20’s weather inspired my budgety creation for this post and now it seems so inapplicable. But hey ho, lets live in hope that whether your headed on holiday or summer decides to show its face again, that this seemingly obvious tip will help you to save a few pounds and up cycle your wardrobe to a more summery feel.

Hearty Life (2)I realised during the “heat wave” that one thing I was lacking in my maternity wardrobe department was a pair of shorts. Me being me and almost at the end of pregnancy saw it pointless to go out and buy a pair…why spend money for a few weeks wear and when living in England we might only have a few days out of those weeks to wear them anyway? SOOO with a little bit of rummaging I found some faded black skinny maternity jeans from a previous pregnancy that I hadn’t worn in this one, and decided I would make my own pair of maternity shorts.

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I have been making shorts this way for years and find it the easiest way to keep onto good fitting jeans/trousers that have seen better days. Its a 5 minute affair and requires only a pair of good scissors with some added skill and precision.

1. Put Jeans on and mark a point where you will cut (mine is always on the knee so I can fold them to be just above)
2. Take off and lay on a flat surface ensuring both legs are straight and aligned
3. Cut across marking carefully and straightly
4. Take cut off and place over other leg to ensure the same amount is cut off and repeat step 3
5. Fold up cut edge to look smooth… Voila … a new pair of shorts!

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I saved money this year on Ethans Summer wardrobe too by doing this on jeans and chinos that were either stained on the knees, ripped or generally half mast! I love seeing them getting even more wear out of their clothes!

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I am absolutely wrecked after the most wonderful hot and sunny weekend spent down in Cambridge for my sister-in-laws wedding. She is the 6th of the 11 kids to get wed, so I suppose you could say that it is becoming quite an ordinary moment for us all, but the weather and whole day was just Perfect. It made me happy to be married to such a wonderful man and be a part of an amazing family.

Mr Smith with all of his siblings

Mr Smith with all of his siblings

I guess whilst they are pretty regular in our family and there are numerous ordinary moments throughout them, little traditions or roles we all take on, or stuff that seems to always reoccur at each one, weddings are never really ordinary themselves are they? Quite the opposite; they are always so special and unique to the couple and feel so lovely to a part of.

The groom is from Cambridge (hence we ended up with the southerners) and it meant that we had some traditional Cambridgeshire touches to it, including the reception at one of the colleges (which was absolutely beautiful and such delicious food) followed by punting on the cam. These picturesque scenes combined with Megsie being a flower girl were the more extra ordinary moments we had this weekend and definitely the ones we will love and remember for years I’m sure.
InstagramCapture_8b03c199-95d2-4344-9f04-92acb5c03cf2cambridge weddingAs I said when you marry a man with 10 siblings, weddings become rather a regular occurrence, so here are my 5 ordinary moments we have at every family wedding:

1. Bride/bridesmaids hair and make up duty:
Since the second wedding I have always been assigned to do hair and make up. Whilst many people would normally pay a professional for these jobs we always think one another’s skills are sufficient and so we just all pitch in and I love it. Though I do panic at moments that we wont be done on time (we always are) I love to transform the bride, help the bridesmaids look mint and slap some make up on the clueless ones.
wedding hairAs a result of spending most of the morning helping them it means I am lucky to have half an hour to get ready, yet somehow always manage to pull it off…and I wouldn’t change it, I enjoy that time with the bride & I enjoy sitting and seeing them so beautiful at the wedding. I love the banter with the bridesmaids, and whilst this time round I just did the bride, there was still plenty of that and I was really pleased with the result’s (as was she) and how well I scrubbed up in 25 mins!
WP_20150808_12_01_43_Pro 2. Trying to keep the kids clean(ish) & entertained:
Big family, lots of weddings = now lots of grand kids. Where we once sat and enjoyed the moment, soaked up the love that was in the air, we now battle through the service to keep them quiet, try to distract them from needing the toilet so we don’t miss the event and try to keep them out of mischief between everything in between, keep them seated during the reception and keep them from having mammoth meltdowns.
WP_20150808_13_38_53_Pro WP_20150808_13_09_27_Pro WP_20150808_12_33_08_Pro (1) WP_20150808_12_31_58_Pro WP_20150808_12_05_01_ProThis weekend we found angry birds, bubbles and a nap on the punt to work wonders.
WP_20150808_16_28_49_Pro WP_20150808_13_57_50_Pro3. Father in laws speech:
Always random, always hilarious, always unpredictable. I love that I married into a family with a sense of humour, with people that can let go and laugh at themselves, its always good fun when we all get together at moments liked these, and this wedding we weren’t disappointed either, when he pulled out all the stops and not only cracked a load of jokes and made up events, but also did a skit and dance as part of his speech…it was epic and I loved every minute!

4. A decent family picture:
This is always madness when you have like 18 adults and now 8 kids under 5 too. Its never a straightforward process and we always have a good laugh.
I love this one of me negotiating with megs who screamed about having to be taken from the bubbles for a picture.
WP_20150808_12_46_23_ProAnd this was the final result (some are missing as kids were napping).
InstagramCapture_cab440a8-8f89-4d03-a1c3-cdb31b2c8d5a5. Family chats and banter:
We all get on amazingly well, I always have done with all of his family and one of my bestest friends that has remained close since teens is one of my sister in laws (So many stories there).
11148504_10152880324616553_3968323427716536282_nWhen I met her now husband we got on great too and the older kids in the family and now spouses would all hang during the dating years, we then all got married fairly close (3 of us couples in 14 months) and so all of our kids so far were born close too and get on great almost always (aside from the odd misunderstanding of course)! We enjoy spending time together and chatting about anything and everything. Marriage, time, parenthood and life experiences have changed us all in many ways but thankfully our relationships have evolved to accommodate.

My other /younger sister in laws have also all become amazing friends too over the years and with every single one of them and my brother in laws, I feel like they are, and see them as my brothers and sisters and we all just seem to mesh.
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I am sure at times we all do each others heads in, its only natural in a family of so many personalities, but we all show a lot of love and tolerance too for each other, and though super different in some ways, we are also very similar in beliefs and humour and there are always a tonne of laughs, wind ups, debates, competitions, games, friendship and love. Though long and tiring and sometimes frustrating we absolutely love the times like this that bring us all together, times to chat and catch up, be ourselves and have some banter!

I/we thank the lord for family and the wonderful times we share, the ordinary and extraordinary moments experienced together that make life and traditions for all of us. It really was an amazing wedding, beautiful weekend and special day! 

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