I recently mentioned that finding time to blog was getting more and more difficult, and so even though I loved doing the weekly series A Week of Smiles that I started very early on in blogging, it was impossible to keep up with a weekly update, so I have renamed it The Smile Files and will make it more of a monthly round up instead, still full of big family adventures as well as the everyday moments that make me smile.
So April was a busy one, we kicked off the month in Wales, a family holiday over the Easter weekend with my eldest Jess and her family (partner Raj, stepson Cam and my grandson, baby Sony). We stayed in a village near Llanelli in a huge barn conversion that was perfect for two families, we each had our own bedroom wing at each side of the house and the living areas were really spacious, it was perfect. The weather wasn’t great (rain every day!) and when we attempted a walk on the beach we nearly got blown away (the hot chocolates in the cafe were definitely the best bit!) but we didn’t mind and had a lovely relaxing few days all together.
We also made good use of our new Merlin Passes, with a trip to Alton Towers which isn’t too far away from us and a couple of days in Legoland with an impromptu overnight stay (we had talked about it but not got around to booking anything, then on the day before we were going, booked a last minute hotel!) I thought Legoland would be amazing with the kids and it was great, don’t get me wrong, but the height restrictions just fell wrong for us which meant that Freya couldn’t go on some of the rides at all (many had 1.1m restrictions) and other than on the smallest rides Sienna had to be accompanied by an adult (as she was under 1.3m) and so we spent a lot of our trip separately taking the kids on things while one of us stayed with Luna and the other child (who was quite often sulking as they wanted to be on a ride too!) Whereas at Alton Towers one of us could take Sienna and Freya on something together while the other one walked around with Luna (as Sienna could sit in by herself as a lot of the rides’ height restriction for ‘unaccompanied’ children was 1.1m) and there were also lots of rides we could take Luna on with us too. At Legoland a lot of the family rides were only for 4, so we still ended up riding in two separate groups, but at Alton Towers this wasn’t really an issue. It wasn’t a major problem, but something to bear in mind and be prepared for if you are thinking of going.
To finish off the Easter holidays Dave and I had a child free break in London. It was a birthday present from me for Dave, the kids went to stay with Grandma & Grandad, while we had a night in a hotel (Good Hotel, highly recommended, not central London but very easy to get to, very reasonably priced and really, well, good – pun totally intended!) plus tickets to the Bond in Motion exhibition at the LondonFilm Museum. We had the absolute best time and managed to pack so much into just two days! As well as the James Bond exhibition, we walked over the top of the O2 arena which was really good fun, went on the London Eye (which I’d never actually done before), went on a Clipper boat to Greenwich on the Thames, walked underneath the Thames (I didn’t even know there was a tunnel!), ate some seriously delicious food, went on the Emirates Airline cable car (which was conveniently just outside our hotel) and really enjoyed spending some quality together (that actually didn’t entail using a forced jolly voice when the kids are all whinging on a trip out and we are muttering ‘fun times’ sarcastically to each other. Or just falling asleep in front of the TV approximately two seconds after we start to watch the TV show we’ve been trying to catch up with for ages! You know, the things that usually pass for ‘quality time’!) And of course, we were super happy to see the girls by the time we got back, having a break definitely helps me be a better mum!
We also managed to make good use of our National Trust memberships with visits to Shugborough Hall, Sudbury Hall and Calke Abbey. While I love holidays and big days out to theme parks etc I find National Trust days out are just so relaxing (well, except for the times when Freya tries to escape under the rope barriers in stately homes and I fear for the antiques!) and the girls love it that they get the freedom to run around in open spaces.
April also saw me settling back to work after my maternity leave, Freya starting at nursery two days a week (which is still very up and down as she struggles to settle) and pre-school one morning a week (where she is settling a bit quicker), Luna going to our fab childminder two days a week (where Sienna goes too just before and after school one day a week – after keeping on asking me ‘mummy, when are you going back to work, I can’t wait to go back to Hannah’s’ ….. er, thanks Sienna, this doesn’t make me feel unwanted at all!) and all three girls also spend one day with Grandma & Grandad. It’s certainly busy and a constant juggle but I do feel like the balance of working three days a week is about right for us (most of the time anyway!)
We also had Sienna’s first Beaver Scout parade, which she really enjoyed. She has only been going to Beavers for a couple of months since she turned 6 and she seems to really enjoy it.
Now I read this post back (about to hit publish over halfway through May, though I started it at the end of April – you can tell finding time to blog isn’t getting any easier!!) I am amazed how much we packed in! I keep waiting for life to get a bit simpler and quieter but I’ve pretty much accepted that’s never going to happen and I probably wouldn’t want a quiet life anyway!