Friday, February 25, 2011

easy paper napkin craft ~ wallflowers

I am so grateful for Craft Blogs. They are currently saving my life with my girls.
My daughters love to make, to create and to craft, constantly.

Gone are they days or drawing, glueing and finger painting.
They are now into wanting to do some serious crafting and designing.

As a busy mother, coming up with new craft ideas is just very difficult and time consuming.
Enter the wonderful world of craft blogs and the blessing of finding easy cheap crafts to online.

I just have to say that I am amazed at those who have craft blogs. For me keeping up with this blog is hard work and I cannot imagine having to make something every time I wanted to do a post - the pressure would kill me! I really admire the work and effort that craft bloggers do.

In my searching recently I found this wonderful site over at Dana Made It.
Dana has this wonderful tutorial on how to make easy paper napkin Wallflowers.
You soooo need to check this out!

So I looked it over,  loved it and decided this was a craft we could actually do. I took myself off to IKEA {any excuse!} to get the paper napkins and came home to have some serious fun with my girls.
Actually, I think we went a little crazy!

Our home is now 'wallflowered' in 3 rooms and we are totally loving it. I found it was the perfect solution to a blank wall I have had in our lounge for ages and I love the texture, the colour and the boldness of the flowers. I even got some other colours to make later on when I want to change the colours around a bit. Couldn't help myself! I even have some great pink colours to add when I am ready to experiment.

Here are some snaps of our cheap craft adventure below:
laying out the napkins
 folding the napkins
fluffing the napkins
 more fluffing the napkins
 the lounge room wall - flowered
 a close up of the flowers
 they sit really nicely ~ even from side view
the girls put some in their bedrooms
they look great don't you think?

This craft was so easy and I am so grateful to find Dana's site as it will keep my girls happy for a little while. I love that they were able to make this all by themselves and can be reminded of how clever they are every day when they see it in their rooms.

I recommend you check out Dana's site - her flowers look awesome and you can tell she is way more crafty than me when you see her decorating. Thank YOU Dana.

Monday, February 21, 2011

the creative family

I have just finished reading 'the creative family' by Amanda Blake Soule. She is the author of the popular blog SouleMama, where she writes about and photographs her thrifting, crafting and parenting adventures. Amanda is one clever mum and has simplicity down to a fine art.

I really enjoyed reading her book. It stirred within me a desire to simplify, to create and to connect with my children on a more personal natural level. Along with my recent visits to The Organised Housewife I am feeling the need to de~clutter and to look at the items we have around our house in a more creative, imaginative and fun way. I have been clearing out rooms and trying to set up a better play and creative fun space for my cherubs.

I love how Amanda shares that many of us are feeling the need to bring a little more simple heartfelt, handmade presence into our lives. I find I am currently craving that need. I want to slow down and take in the moment more. To see the delight in my cherubs eyes when they learn a new skill and the wonderful chatter that comes when we are creating and learning.

After reading this book and pondering a little, I remembered that I used to hang up all of my kids art and school work and lately I have been so busy that I have not been showcasing them as much as I would like. I have been so busy trying to keep up with all of the events we have happening in our family that I have found I am missing out on enjoying and appreciating the creative expressions my children have been doing.

This book is a very simple read. The ideas presented are from her blog and if you have been a mother for several years you probably would have tried most of these already. I found it is not a book for more experienced mothers to get new ideas but more a book to inspire and remind you to slow down, appreciate what resources you have around you and to get back to basics in teaching and creating with your children.

I love the idea of encouraging imagination and nurturing family connections.
How do you go about it in your house?

Friday, February 18, 2011

5 reasons to do sponsored posts

Having a blog can lead you to many wonderful opportunities. You can meet lovely new friends, create communities and use your space to promote great businesses and products.

Over the past year I was approached to do some sponsored posts by Nuffnang.
This led to me having a decision to make. What did I want to do with my creative space?

I had to decide if I wanted to keep this space just for me or if I wanted to allow others to share it. I also had to decide if I wanted to make some money from my blog or if I was going to be happy doing all of it for free and fun. This decision is a personal choice and I know of many successful blogs who have chosen not to go down this road.

If you are a regular visitor to my site you will know that I chose to try doing sponsored posts. I know I can change my mind at any time and so far have loved the decision that I have made.

So today, I thought I would share with you my 5 reasons for doing a sponsored post:

1. It helps with Blogger Block
As I am a busy mum and want to keep the flow of my blog happening, I have found that having sponsored posts gives me a small break from the pressure of coming up with new ideas of what to write about. Knowing that I have a sponsored post coming up helps me to relax and I love that I have something fun and new lined up for my readers. It often gives me fresh ideas and inspires me to have more fun.

2. You get some great free products
With a family of many children I found doing sponsored posts a great blessing in providing me with some special treats and products to share with my children. It earns me some serious mummy points in our house and my children have something to look forward to along with me. Doing movie reviews gives us the opportunity to all sit down together and share in some family fun. My children love being one of the first to see new movies out and we love to talk and discuss what we saw.

3. You can remain in control
When I decided to do sponsored posts I loved that I could still be in control of my space. I can pick and choose which products I want featured on my blog. If a product is not in line with my values I will not review it. If I already have some personal posts that I really want to share that week, I am honest and say when I am available to do the sponsored post. I can also chose if I want to do a product review for free if I totally love it or accept the offer of payment. Generally, I chose to promote great products for free with smaller companies.

4. You get cash
Over the past year I have been blessed to earn some cash from my sponsored posts. I never ever thought that this would be possible from my little blog. I decided to do them so I could save up for one item. A new white MacBook. I was very excited to be able to earn enough money to purchase one and love that I can now blog from my new computer. I really appreciate the companies who helped me to purchase this and I really appreciate you Seven Cherubs readers for supporting me in my sponsored posts.

5. It is fun
I love having family fun and doing sponsored posts have helped our family do some activities and try new things that we would never have done over the past year. An example would be when I announced to our children that Nuffnang wanted us to have a family competition of games and fun with the boys against the girls. There was great support and excitement for the event. Sponsored posts have also helped me be more creative in my writing and photography and it gives me something fun to look forward to. I love having a voice on products and working in a fun way to share how I feel.

Thank YOU for your support and thanks Nuffnang for the sponsored posts.
P.S...this blog post was not sponsored by Nuffnang!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My 7 Birth Stories ~ Part 1

I am often asked about my birth experiences. People assume that because I have seven children that birth was an easy process for me and that was the reason that I kept going back for more. All of my experiences have been different and special in their own way and I find that I can relate to many other women because they have been so varied.

In my conversations with other mothers I have met very few people who have actually had what I would call an somewhat easy birth. To me there is no such thing. Giving birth is downright painful, exhausting, overwhelming, exilarating and incredible all rolled into one.

So to answer all the questions here are my seven brief birth experiences:

1. Chelsea * With my first birth I was very nervous and extremely excited. Having looked forward to becoming a mother for most of my life I was hoping that everything would go well and I would have the opportunity to be one. I had no idea what I was really in for, even after watching a birth movie, which I have to say totally scared me. I followed my 'What to expect when you are expecting' book every single day to answer all my questions.

I started getting regular contractions at 6 days overdue first thing in the morning on a Thursday. I was an emotional mess by this stage as I could not believe I had gone so late. I went to my doctors appointment at the hospital that day where they sent me home to wait. I knew I was in serious labour when by Thursday night I could not stop rolling around on my bed in absolute pain.

We called the hospital because I could no longer talk and breathe properly and went in about 8pm. After about 5 hours I was still in pain and by now totally exhausted. I remember screaming hysterically at one stage and the midwife telling me to calm down. After that I stayed quiet and remained in control. I made the decision to have Pethadine and it helped me sleep a little.

At around 4am in the morning they decided to break my waters and we discovered that Chelsea had become stressed and done a poo inside of me. The room immediately became full of staff and I was told I had to push her out fast or they would use the suction cap to pull her out. My idea of having a natural quiet birth changed very quickly.

I had decided to write out a birth plan and gave it to my midwife. I remember at one stage they wheeled in a large mirror to help me with my pushing. I took one look and screamed 'take it out! take it out!', that was the last time I ever wrote out a birth plan!

They let me spend the next hour pushing her out {it amazes me where you can get the energy from when you really need it} and she was born at 5am on Friday morning. I ended up having to have an episiotomy to help to get her out. There was no need for the suction cap and she was healthy and beautiful. I totally adored her and Chelsea was more perfect than I could have ever imagined and I was delighted that my dream to become a mother had come true.
 Just before having Chelsea
Chelsea several hours old

2. Nathan * As Matt was living away for work when Nathan was due to be born, we arranged for me to be induced on a weekend so that Matt could attend his birth. My pregnancy with Nathan had been very good compared to all the vomiting I did with Chelsea. I was hoping the birth was going to be shorter and easier too.

I went into hospital on a Thursday night and was given 'The Gels'. I waited to see if they would take affect and the first lot did nothing. The second administration worked. As soon as I felt the first contraction I knew it was on. I was scared stiff as I knew what I was in for this time and immediately called Matt to come into the hospital.

I was hooked up to a drip so they could monitor me and speed up the contractions if they needed to. After about 5 hours they decided to break my waters, {I so dislike having that done and it hurts so much!}, to help speed things on a little. I ended up having so much fluid that I flooded the floor and I still remember them bringing in a mop and bucket!

The pain from the contractions was terrible. I spent all of my time with my face in the gas mask and overdosed a little, alright a lot, and ended up laughing my head off to the amusement of everyone around me. For Nathan's birth I had a male student deliver him. It was not a good choice. I kept telling him I would rather have another episiotomy than tearing and he kept telling I would be fine. I still remember his face when I tore badly and he then had to spend a long time stitching me up.

Several hours later Nathan was born. When he came out he was totally blue and that was when we discovered he had the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck several times, very tightly. They quickly undid the cord, immediately placed him on my chest and then took him away to be checked.

I felt so blessed and lucky that he turned out healthy and well. I was scared that he could have some effects from the cord and was relieved that he could come to the room with me and we could begin our relationship together.

When Nathan was born I could not believe I had a baby boy. For some reason I always thought I would have all girls and he was just a pure delight for me.
 Baby Nathan
Chelsea and Nathan - 14 months apart in age

3. Liahona * I remember very clearly this was a difficult pregnancy and birth. I was very swollen and sore throughout the whole pregnancy. I was booked in to be induced 10 days over due. The night before my appointment on the 10th day I went into labour. I was very exhausted, very emotional and very ready to get this baby out.

I had booked myself into the Birthing Center to have another natural birth. As I went into labour without being induced I was able to attend the center. Two things I remember with Liahona was that I had to stand up every time I had a contraction and Matt doing funny dances for me on a swivel chair in the birthing suite to keep me smiling.

Once again I was hoping for a shorter birth and once again it was so not going to happen for me.  We went into hospital around 11pm at night and Liahona was born around 5am the next morning. It was a long night of contractions and very slow progress.

I remember a midwife came in, did an internal to check me and decided to help me along with my dilation process. Without telling me she used her fingers to tear apart my cervix to speed up my dilation. Then she quickly left the room. I screamed my head off it hurt so much and she was lucky I was laying down because if I could have reached her I would have hit her in the face.

I understand she was trying to help me along and I am thankful it sped up the process but, man alive the pain! So to help recover from that, to help me relax, I decided to have a bath. As soon as I sat down in the bath I felt a big thrust or shift of the baby and realised she had slipped down and her head was crowing.

The midwives immediately drained the water and told me I could not have the baby in the bath. I tried to argue with them that I would love to stay where I was and have the baby there, but guess what happened next. I had to stand up out of the bath and carefully walk {well waddle}with Liahona's head presenting, partly hanging out, to the bed holding her inside me with great difficulty. Talk about insane!

It was the longest wide legged walk of my life! Liahona was delivered on the bed healthy and well and with a full head of black hair. Totally gorgeous and very different from my other two!

It did end up being a natural birth for me and I decided from now on I was going to have a little more medication to help me get through these births. They were not getting any easier.
Liahona about 1 hour old
Now with three cherubs

4. Harmony * By now I knew I was one of those women who is always late in having a baby. This time I decided to take matters into my own hands to speed things up a little. I booked myself in to be induced about 5 days overdue.

When I went into the hospital to have a check to see if could be induced they told me to go home as the baby was not ready. Well, I was ready and wanted the baby out there and then. They looked over my records, previous birth history and decided to admit me to be induced.

The morning started off very slowly in relation to contractions and by lunch time I was in a lot of pain. Even though I was in pain I was not dilating very fast at all. I decided to have an epidural to help me get through the day.

They had a lot of difficulty inserting the epidural and I actually had it put in three times before it started to work. By the end of the third time I was emotionally worn out from having to lay still and not move during the contractions so that could put the epidural in.

About one hour later they upped my drip and the contractions really hit hard. Still very little progress.

Late in the afternoon they decided to break my waters. Have I mentioned I hate that part! Then began another long wait to see if baby would arrive. Every so often a midwife would come in to check on me.

Around 6 or 7pm a midwife came in to check on me again. All I remember is she swore and ran out of the room. I turned to Matt and said 'I am having a caesarian'. With having an epidural I could not feel anything and did not know what was wrong.

Very quickly doctors and nurses rushed in and I was taken to theater. I was told along the way I had a cord prolapse and Harmony had hand presentation. She was trying to come out arm first! Lucky for me I already was medicated and ready for surgery. I remember as I was being rushed down the corridors having a feeling of peace that everything would be alright. I held on to that feeling and used it to get me though the next couple of hours.

I ended up having an emergency caesarian and it all happened so fast that Matt missed the birth of Harmony. I was blown away how fast everyone moved to be there and how quickly they got her out. I was so, so thankful that she was healthy and that we have such wonderful technology and skilled hospital staff to help with giving birth in our day.

Harmony was just such a sweet cherub and I feel so grateful to have her in my life.
Our growing family with baby Harmony
 The four cherubs
Just gorgeous - Harmony

So in Part 2 I will share the next three births and how after having an emergency caesarian I was able to go on and not have any more caesarian births. This was a really difficult process to keep it short and brief. There is so much emotion and feeling involved in each birth.

I hope you enjoy my experiences, they are special to me as they have each given me a great gift, a wonderful cherub each time to come to our family.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentines Day and Love Story Part 2

We love Valentines Day in our house. It is a chance for us to have a little fun surprising each other with notes and treats. We only celebrate it to have some extra traditional activities and really we believe that showing love and kindness should happen everyday as a family.

One of our Valentines Day traditions involve having red heart waffles for breakfast.
Normally made every year by my sweetheart Matt. The kids love them and so do I.

We also write notes to each other. I so love to read what the kids have to say about love and Liahona this year was the only one who felt the need to write one to herself. Good on you Liahona!

This year is the 13th year Matt and I have spent Valentines Day together. We generally do not go overboard spoiling each other but love to write a sweet note to share our feelings as our gift of love on Valentines Day.

I started writing about our love story here.
I am sorry to say that I have not been able to find the time to continue it.
So here is a little of Love Story Part 2.

When I left off my story I was going overseas for 18 months and Matt was staying behind in Adelaide to continue his study at University to be a teacher.

Upon returning I found some work and settled into a new routine of life. I had left one semester at University to complete and began the schedule of work and study to keep me busy and happy. At this stage of my life I felt ready to get married. I knew clearly what type of guy I was looking for after having dated a lot and having learnt from bad experience what not to look for.

Matt was still studying at University and was at a stage where he too felt ready to get married. He had also dated a lot and was beginning to wonder if he really was going to find the right person for him.

Both of us were busy and did not know what the next step should be in trying to find and date others. Then something wonderful happened.

I attended a church fireside and was very impressed by the first speaker. It was Matt.
He spoke very well, he touched my heart and he looked handsome in his blue suit.
Still love it when he wears that suit!

After the meeting I was speaking to a friend and Matt came up and had a quick chat with me.
He asked how my service mission went when I was overseas and then simply said goodbye.

There still were no sparks. Just friendly chit chat.
But my heart had been pricked. I was impressed and I was interested.

During that same week I had promised to call a friend to chat. For the life of me I could not find the right number. Everyone I tried to call did not have it. Eventually, someone gave me Matt's phone number as they knew he would have it.

I had a difficult choice to make. To call him or not.
You see I am a big believer in guys asking girls out and not the other way around.
I know, very old fashioned but that is the way I am.

I decided to call, to get the number and then get off the phone as quick as possible.
Imagine my delight when he actually was home, answered the phone, had the number and in our brief conversation asked me to go out with him on a date!

I of course said 'Yes' and we organised to meet for a day out at the Zoo.
Can I just say here that if you ever want to go on a first date, that the Zoo is an excellent place. If you have a lull in conversation you just turn the animals and say 'Look at that monkey, isn't it just gorgeous' etc. So easy and less pressure.

Well, Matt and I did not have that problem. We talked all day, pretty much non-stop.
Having just returned from overseas I had plenty to share and say and we both had a lovely time discussing the missions that we both served in different places. We had something in common immediately and it lead to feeling connected, united in helping others and respect and admiration for the experiences we each had.

After our day at the Zoo we made another time to meet.
We continued to do this for four weeks.

At the end of the four weeks I knew this was the guy for me.
He was kind, loving, funny, sweet and everything I was looking for.

Lucky for me, Matt felt the same.
At the end of the four weeks, Matt asked me to marry him.
I said Yes. It was the best decision of my life.

It was a bit of a shock for some people. Four weeks is not a very long time.
For us it was all we needed.
When you know, you just know!

Happy Valentines Day everyone!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Mother Heart: retromummy

This year for Mother Heart we are having some guest hearts. Here is our first one for the year:

ABOUT YOU: I'm Corrie, a happily married mother of 4 who lives in Sydney. I love my family, craft, diet coke, baking, church, my friends, shopping, japanese food and getting my toe nails painted red. Craft is a big part of my life - knitting, sewing, quilting, crochet, stitching - I love it all. My dreams are to be able to travel and share the world with our children- Disneyland to meet Mickey Mouse, Paris to climb the Eiffel Tower and show them where their daddy used to live and work, England, Italy to see the vatican and so on. No easy feat for a family of 6 but I've always managed to make my dreams come true so I know we can do it.

YOUR FAMILY: I have 4 gorgeous children, Keira (4), Tillie & Finn my 2 year old twins and our newest addition, Elodie who is 3 months old. I am married to Justin who I met on a Contiki trip of Europe almost 10 years ago. It was love at first sight and we then went on to find out that we were both accountants, catholic, the same age and off on holiday before settling down to work overseas. It confirmed my belief that there is someone out there for you and you just have to wait to meet them. I was 24 and ready to marry him the next day....he made me wait 3 long years.

I have been at home since I was pregnant with Keira and love it. There was never any question in our household that I was going to stay home and I'm being rewarded with the very close relationship I have with my children. I know every single thing about them and with a husband who works long hours and interstate for half of the week I think it is necessary that they have me always around.

I am always asked how I manage to do so much with 4 children (which seems silly to write here on the blog of a mother of 7) but I have been so lucky since Elodie arrived to have a cleaner on a monday and a nanny a few days a week which has lightened my load.

MOTHER HEART: Everytime I see my big girl Keira look after her brother and sister while I'm busy with little Elodie is a beautiful moment. She herds them around the house or mall, keeps track of them, opens drink bottles and climbs onto the kitchen counter to reach a cup and pour them a milk or water. She calls herself little mummy and it makes me see the value in the years I've spent at home with her.

A funny thing happened recently when Finn tackled Tillie to the floor as twins like to do (now this was not the funny part) and Tillie started crying, Keira quickly came over, cuddled and gave her a kiss and with an arm around her back led her off into the loungeroom distracting her with chit chat. Oh my heart......

GOALS: My goals for my children are pretty simple. To be happy, to grow up to be responsible young adults who do the right thing and know to stay away from the bad influences. I hope that they will make the most of the opportunities that we will have provided for them. It's funny that 2 years ago my goals were for my children to be able to walk out of the house and get into the car on their own but we've mastered that now.

me and my sweet babies

another try

BLOG: I've been blogging since keira was born and I blog about family life, my latest craft project and just what goes on in our busy house. I'm hugely addicted to blogging and try to do it every day!

My blog is

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

my morning routine

A good morning routine blesses my life. It gives me a sense of purpose and I love to have a regular system that I follow. I have tried many different plans and continually rework my routine to fit into my families schedule. One of my routines I wrote about is here.

As I am now exercising from 5am-6am, with this Blogger Butt Challenge, my schedule has changed.

I am now super tired {because I can never get to bed early enough} in the morning and especially after  dropping the kids off at school. With this kind of feeling I have taken my morning routine and made it into a 'NO THINK' simple to follow system.

I cut up the back of a cereal box and made some square cards. Super easy!
I then listed all the activities I wanted to accomplish each morning to bring order and happiness.
For me it involves:
Having a tidy bedroom
A quick clean up of the kids bedrooms
Putting on a load of washing
Saying my prayers
Having a shower and getting dressed
Decluttering the kitchen table
Checking emails
Preparing dinner for that night
Quick tidy up of the loungeroom
Sweeping the kitchen floor and
Tidying up the kitchen from breakfast.

I leave my cards in my bedroom and every time I complete a task I turn over a card.
It is simple and easy. If I get held up or distracted or simply find myself wondering what I am supposed to be doing, I can just go to my room and see where I am at.

Do you have a plan or system that you follow?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

blog lessons learned

In the past year of having a blog I have had my eyes opened to many things.

I know how to use technology much better than I did before, I can even understand some of the code needed to help in designing a blog.

I know myself better, I know what I love to write about and I have more confidence in myself.

I know that the blogging community is very supportive and will go to great lengths to shower someone with love who is struggling or in need of care and kind words.

I know that if you ask for help - you will get it - even for the simple easy questions.

I know that there are many women who have incredible talents with words, design and business skills. Whilst sharing theses talents they are also doing a brilliant job in raising their children.

I know that having a blog can be lonely some days and other days it can be overwhelming.

Here are a few of my tips for having a blog:

1. Remember you are not alone. When you first start out with a blog it can be a very lonely. It can feel like you are talking and writing to yourself. If you are happy with that - awesome! but if you are looking for connection - then commenting on other blogs is the way to start bringing some new friends your way. There are a lot of wonderful people who have blogs and becoming friends through this way is a delight and a treasure.

2. Do not take it personally. Not everyone is going to be as passionate about your writing or ideas as you are. If you recieve criticism, listen, but do not let it stop you from achieveing your blog dream or goals. Continue to stay focused and write about what you want. Hit the delete button and move on.

3. Networking. I cannot say enough about this. It is so important to take the time to connect and get to know other bloggers. Not only to help promote yourself and your blog but also to get fresh inspiration and ideas. I recommend joining a blogging community. In this environment you can get support. If you don't know how to do something with your blog - ask another blogger and I bet you {if they have time} they will help you out!

4. Be positive. Always promote yourself in a positive manner - even if you are having the worst day ever and just want to cry. I am not saying do not write about those days but if you are dealing with a person that involves promoting your blog and maybe a potential sponsor believe in yourself. If you don't then you cannot expect that others will.

5. Value your space. Your blog is your own personal creative space. It is your choice what you put on this space and what you want to promote. It is important to stick to your values and there is nothing wrong with saying NO to a product or another blog invite or link if you do not feel comfortable. Your readers will know who and what you stand for and love you for it.

6. Have fun! If you are not enjoying what you are doing with your blog, then STOP! I am not saying every day is going to be bliss as a blogger/writer but if you don't love or feel passionate about what you are doing - CHANGE - start writing/exploring something else. Remember your blog is taking time away from your family {if you have one} so it needs to be worth it and you need to determine what you want to get out of it. Having a blog can be a great joy and a way to meet lovely friends. Enjoy it.

{image above from here}