Tuesday, May 31, 2011

30 days of happiness

The time has come to reveal my thirty days of happiness list. These are topics that have been on my mind recently and I have felt impressed to write about them. I am excited and a little bit nervous to share this list with you. I am hoping you will enjoy what is in store and my thoughts on this topic.

You are most welcome to write about any of these topics as well and I plan on having a few days where you can link up any happiness posts that you have written.

I would love your feedback and any thoughts you have to share about how any of these topics have helped bring happiness to your life. It is going to be fun, it is going to be crazy writing about them all and I am so looking forward to the challenge.

Let the days of happiness begin.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Baby Shower for Men

{Matt and Chelsea}

We do things a little differently in the Seven Cherubs house.
I guess it is how we have fun and enjoy ourselves. We put our own spin on things.

This is a flashback post. A memory that I treasure.

When I was pregnant with my first baby Chelsea, I was asked several times if I was going to have a baby shower to celebrate. In thinking about it, I decided that I really did not want to have one, but decided to have a baby shower for Matt.

A surprise Men's baby shower.
Oh my! it was so much fun to put together.

My sister-in- law Naomi, yes we have the same name, helped me put it together.

On the invitation we said:

"Dear Men,

Have you always wanted to attend a baby shower??? 
Well, here is your chance. We are planning a surprise baby shower for Matt and his first baby.

It is strictly men only. We do not expect any frilly things so if you would like to bring a present please make it a tool that matt needs when changing a baby or giving a bath or something you know he could use.

*insert day and time*

Naomi and Naomi"

We sent out the invitations to Matt's men friends and could not wait for the night to happen. My biggest problem I had was coming up with a reason to get Matt out of the house. So I got my sister-in-law to tell Matt that there was a surprise baby shower for me that night and he had to get me out of the house.

Too funny and yes, we are so clever!

I was killing myself laughing (on the inside!) as I watched Matt go around and clean up the house for his own baby shower! Love that guy!!

Later in the afternoon he suggested that we go for a drive and I nearly burst out laughing!
I of course played along with everything that he said and dutifully got in the car to go for a drive.

After our drive Matt let me inside the door first, so that I would get my surprise. I quickly went into the lounge area and turned around in time to see Matt still standing at the door staring at a sign that said "Good luck Dad" with a very confused look on his face.

When he stepped inside the door everyone jumped out and yelled 'Surprise' and Matt was shocked to see that our loungeroom was full of guys! It was totally awesome and Matt was so shocked that the baby shower was for him.

I loved that we had surprised him and touched that he felt sad for me that I was not having one.

The two of us Naomi's and Matt's mum were the only females permitted and it was such a fun night. My sister-in-law ran the whole evening and it was so great to see Men doing all the baby shower activities. Playing spit the dummy and changing nappies as fast as they could and having a great time chatting about fatherhood.

One of the things I enjoyed was that they took the competitions so seriously. I just laughed and laughed at how competitive they were even when it came to nappies and baby activities. Classic!

At the end of the night I really felt that it was a special event. It is not often that you get to be with a bunch of great men, who value fatherhood and to be able to listen to the several heartfelt sharing moments that happened when they spoke with respect and love towards their wives and their own children. Sure there were laughs, sure there was fun, but there was also love and admiration.

It was wonderful to show Matt how much I appreciate all that he does in supporting me in my motherhood role and journey. After all I could not do it without him.

Thanks Naomi for helping to make it happen.

Friday, May 20, 2011

WEAR your happiness

Happiness idea number 17.

If you are new to my blog one of the things you should know about me is that I am working my way through my happiness list. Happiness does not always come easy for me so I am a seeker of happiness. You can check out my original happiness list here and the ideas I have completed and posted about here.

Today I want to inspire YOU to WEAR your happiness. I have been pondering over how it makes me happy to wear a few items that are my favourites. You know, those items that you adore, that you treasure and look forward to putting on to add a little spunk to your day. It really is a simple and easy way to bring happiness to my heart and mind. As soon as I wear a few of my favourite things, I feel happier. They make me smile and no matter what seems to happen, I feel better about myself because I am wearing them.

Now, don't get me wrong, I believe that true happiness is found in your heart and that often it has nothing to do with material items or circumstances around you. It has more to do with family and friends and with being content with who you are. For today though, I thought I would share a few treasures that do bring an extra dash of happiness to my life. Here are my examples of how I WEAR my happiness.

So here we go:
Here is my current favourite necklace. I picked it up at Diva on sale.

Here is my all time favourite headband. I found it in a Chemist. I am addicted to headbands.

Here are my current favourite shoes. Another sale item that I love. Super comfortable.

Here is my current favourite handbag. Green or lime is not normally my colour (I am a blue girl) but I love the suede feel of the bag.

Here is my favourite dress. Wore this to my sisters Wedding. Love the colour.

Here is my favourite jacket. Found it in an op-shop and adore it. I love wearing funky suit jackets.

Here is my favourite lipstick. Revlon. Love a bit of gloss and this is Glossy Rose.

Here are my favourite earrings. Given to me by Gemma Joy. Love them.

Here is my favourite scarf. I picked up in K-Mart. Keeps me warm and goes with everything.

Here is my favourite brooch. Love the pink, from Diva. Always makes me happy wearing it.

Here is my favourite t-shirt. From Levant. Made by The Butterfly Movement. Love the message.

They also have a range of other sayings:

Levant offers fashion for the green at heart, socially conscious, environmentally aware consumer. They stock products with style, integrity and soul making it easy to look good, feel good and be good. If you are interested in purchasing a t-shirt email Corrine at {levant@live.com.au} and they will give you free postage in Australia if you mention Seven Cherubs. 

I could go on for ages about my favourite ways I wear my happiness. I am a bit of an accessory addict.
I will have to share my jewellery and headband collection one day. Let's hope you don't all freak out!

Here is my all time favourite accessory to wear. A smile. It costs nothing.

What do you love to WEAR to bring you happiness??? 
What is your favourite accessory???

p.s * I was sent that awesome t-shirt to wear and keep and I was not paid for promoting the product.
I really do love it. Soft to wear and love the message.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

It is official: I am wonder woman

Sam and Eli made me a special gift.
They have given me super wonder woman powers.
Check it out:

Here is why I need it.
We live in a house full of personality.

Enough said.
The end.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

motherhood: to do list and to be list

As a mother I am always writing out to-do lists that are a mile long. I am involved in many different organisations and keeping lists helps me to stay on track. I am constant list maker and love the sense of accomplishment that I feel when I have checked of certain tasks that have been bugging me for days.

So much of my focus each day is on getting through my list as fast as I can and on keeping up with all the to-do's that life brings with a large family. I even find myself saying over and over, I need to do...., I need to do...., and then saying to my children over and over you need to do...., you need to do..... It is a constant part of my day as a mother spending time trying to do.

Recently, I had the chance to listen to an awesome talk by Lynn G. Robbins. He really got me thinking about my to-do lists that I make and how I spend so much of my time doing when really what I want to focus on is becoming.

See below:

"Many of us create to do lists to remind us of things we want to accomplish. But people rarely have to be lists. Why? To do's are activities or events that can be checked off the list when done. To be, however, is never done. You can't earn checkmark's with to be's. I can take my wife out for a lovely evening this Friday, which is a to do. But, being a good husband is not an event; it needs to be part of my nature ~ my character, or who I am."

Wow! As a prolific list maker this really hit me. I spend so much of my time running and rushing around trying to do that I do not stop and think about what I need to be or want to become.

As my full time work and career choice is being a stay at home mum I realise that creating a to-be (or become) list in relation to my area of work is a tough task!

For sure, I try to focus on using more patience, showing more love, speaking kinder and softer and developing better skills in relation to housework and cooking and budgeting, but actually being able to say that I have become or have reached a stage of being a good mother is a hard tick to cross off the to-be checklist.

When I think of my motherhood to do list it involves a variety of activities such as:

read to the children
teach them to pray
help with homework
give them healthy meals
be available for my children
discipline them with love
teach them the value of hard work
provide uplifting family activities
play games and have fun
show affection and give praise
and many more....

My motherhood to be list is very different. I wrote a post about what I think makes a good mother here and since that time have changed a little on what I personally want to be in relation to motherhood.

My motherhood to-be list looks a little like this:

become kind and loving
become joyful
become compassionate
become mindful
become individual
become peaceful
become content
and many more.....

Although my to-do list is very important and makes a big difference in how my family functions and in how my cherubs are raised, the to-be list is what makes a big difference to me personally.

The to-do list helps me to feel better as I accomplish all the tasks I need to do each day but my to-be list relates to how I feel about motherhood in my heart, how I feel about myself and in the end when my children are older and gone with how I am left as a person.

As I reflect over the 10+ years that I have been at home as a stay at home mum, I can see that I have grown and changed and become in small ways more towards the mother I want to be and towards the mother my children need me to be.

The growth has been small and gradual, but it has taken place. I love that my cherubs help me to be and to become better and I look forward to the rest of the journey that is before me.

Are you a to~do list maker??? Do you think about what you want to~be or become in your motherhood journey?? What to you want to become???

Monday, May 16, 2011

home environment of happiness

In the past month I have been working on creating a happier environment at home. In discussions with Matt, I have shared how I want our home to reflect how we feel as a family and to function in a way that will bring happiness to our hearts. In thinking of ways to decorate our home I had to be logical and realistic in my thinking even though my heart wanted something else.

As a large family, we need to do things a little differently to cater to our needs. What would work in a home with a smaller family just does not work for us. An area of our home that has taken up most of my time lately, was to create a new study area for the cherubs. We value homework and study in our home and I wanted to create an area that would be bright and fun for the children to help motivate them to study and learn. It also had to cater to different age groups as we now have six children at school and are all learning at a different level.

Matt and I went off to Officeworks and picked up a simple folding table and a couple of chairs and I set to work setting up a study space. I chose to get a folding table so that I could store it at a later date if I needed to and also so that I could pack it up in the bus to take to an event if needed. The table I chose is easy to clean and I can wipe off any marks from pen, glue and other craft/homework activities that take place.

Here is what our new study area looks like:

I filled some IKEA frames with happiness quotes, the wall flowers you can learn to make here, I added some pencils, colouring books, scrap paper, workbooks and some recent artwork to inspire them to create more. The cherubs have been loving the new space and I am also loving that if I want to catch up on emails or my blog I can sit at the table with a child and they can be busy creating whilst I am busy blogging! Talk about a win/win situation if you ask me.

In creating this new area I also did a lot of pondering about other areas of my home. Not just thinking about material things that we own but also about what simple influences bring happiness and joy to us as a family. During the week I had the wonderful opportunity to spend a day down in Sydney thanks to Brenda from Mother Media and Procter and Gamble and Hausmann Communications. It was held at a wonderful venue and I had the opportunity to get together with some other awesome bloggers to learn about some great home products and how they influence the happiness of our home environment.

The day was a feast for the senses, with instruction on how to create an environment of happiness in your home in relation to smells and perfume from Junji Hamano who is trained as a 'NOSE' (you can read more about him from Kelly at Be a fun mum blog post) on the new Ambi-Pur Air Effects range of products. I loved listening to his explanation of how he created the levels of smell (basenotes) in each the fragrances and his demonstration of how each level helps to create an inviting atmosphere in your home.

We were treated to a lunch time treat and feast cooked by Celebrity Chef Peter Kuruvita who works at The Flying Fish restaurant. I was in seafood heaven and the smells and taste were just divine. I enjoyed learning the scientific methods behind the products, catching up with other bloggers and meeting the lovely Shannon Fricke in person. Shannon runs how to decorate workshops and she really knows her stuff. She was a great host for the day helping through each section.

We were treated to the inside scoop on some new products being launched for the first time here in Australia and I look forward to sharing them with you at a later date. The knowledge I gained behind these products has helped me appreciate the hard work and dedication that many companies put in to making sure home products work for us, bring happiness to our home and make life easier. I appreciated that they wanted our opinion and listened to any questions or advice that we shared.

For a little fun I have linked up a video that we saw on our special day out and it shows that even though these companies take their work seriously they also like to have a little fun promoting products.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

happiness journal LINK UP

Woo hoo! Jumping for JOY.
The day is finally here.

It is time to link up all of our journals from the happiness project.
Thank YOU for your patience in waiting for Blogger to come back to life.

Just as a reminder, the Happiness Project was to keep a one sentence journal for one month. A simple way to record what brings us happiness and what we are grateful for. With over 100 blogs signed up to participate in the project, I am looking forward to reading what made everyone feel happy over the past month. So, lets get started. Here is my journal:

10th April
Spent the day relaxing, listening to conference video's and chilling out with my family, felt uplifted and inspired to be a better woman, wife and mother.

11th April
Awoken by a kiss and hug from Sam, had a delightful foot massage from Nathan, a long hot bubble bath and 100+ blogs signed up to do the happiness project,

12th April
Liberty helped me put away three baskets of washing today and I was touched to be included in a lovely blog post about friends and I felt brave enough to decline a blog promotional event.

13th April
My boots arrived in the mail, loved making some new blog friends, Matt gave me a lovely chocolate surprise and I was able to see Harmony perform a play at school.

14th April
Went to the Anzac Day parade at school to see two of my girls sing and it was beautiful, touching and heartwarming to see them using their talents and skills to uplift others.

15th April
Lovely sleep in as it is the first day of the school holidays, realised today that happiness for me is connected to my family and simple pleasures like nature and being home.

16th April
Morning out with all of my girls, we all went to the hairdressers and had our hair cut, all five of us and it was lovely to see them happy and smiling with a bit of special treatment.

17th April
This morning Liberty read me a story that went like this: I love mummy, I love to kiss her, I love mummy, the end...quite possible the best story I have ever had read to me!

18th April
A rainy day that kept us all inside and we lay around hugging, chilling, talking and disputing with each other, just the way large families should, great to know we are moving along just fine as a family

19th April
I love it when the children show kindness to each other, serve each other and try think outside of themselves for small moments, it helps me see the great potential they have.

20th April
Been working on my inspiration board, dreaming big and thinking small, keeping it real and reaching for the stars...so much fun to do.

21st April
Clean bedrooms bring me joy, a house of order calms my heart and gives me mind more freedom to think, I love an orderly environment at home.

22nd April
My love of chocolate has been stretched to the limit, what fun we have had eating, playing and remembering this important time of year, so love having Matt home with us.

23rd April
A gorgeous sun is shining and we went for a family bush walk today, nobody else was there, the stillness, the scenery and the cherubs were all special, loved the tall trees reaching towards the sun, inspiring.

24th April
A joyful day at church, I was able to sing my favourite Easter Hymn and it is official that Sam and Eli have overdosed on chocolate, a quiet night at home, talking and chatting and treasuring.

25th April
A bus, a bunch of kids, and the wide open roads, travelling and exploring new places, singing and spending time together, so divine!

26th April
So grateful to be blessed with girls and boys, they are so different and teach me many new skills and encourage me to do things I normally would not do, appreciating the personal stretching going on today.

27th April
I managed to escape playing the 'Dad Queen' game with Liberty today and it made my day so much nicer, that girl has an incredible bossy imagination and to bring me happiness I need to come up with a new list of day time activities to keep her busy!

28th April
The little acts of service that happen around our home bring me happiness, putting toys away, clearing the table, helping each other with homework, making someone else's bed, all these small acts create happiness and unity and love, so lovely when I see it happening without asking for it to happen.

29th April
My daily morning hug from the cherubs, all the kids piled on my bed to read a story, a kiss and cuddle in the kitchen from Matt, super cute winks from the little cherubs across the dinner table all make my world special and happy.

30th April
Grateful for cheques in the mail, that everyone ate dinner, enough petrol to last to pay day, a new print to remind me to count my blessings and that I am blessed to be a wife and mother.

1st May
Visiting friends uplifts my heart, allows me to laugh and think about others, Nathan shared his testimony in front of everyone at church and my heart just about burst today.

2nd May
A clean mopped floor makes my house shine and brightens my life, listening to Liahona play the recorder and seeing her 'get it' with music and the constant chatting of cherubs after school with updates and adventures makes me smile.

3rd May
Happiness seems to come and go throughout my day and I realise it stays with me longer if I catch, grab and remember those moments.

4th May
Fundraising with my cherubs to raise money for charity has been fun, I am so proud of the desire they have to help others and been delighted by the response of people.

5th May
Matt inspires me to want to be better and to become better, he encourages me, gives me wings to fly and supports my decisions and choices, love that guy so much.

6th May
A hot bubble bath brings a small moment of happiness, time out alone and some time to think, time to soak and relax and an easy fix for curing the blues.

7th May
Early breakfast in the park, chatting with friends, watching children play, catching up on housework, afternoon nap, family television watching and an early night to bed, bliss!

8th May
Learning that happiness is about taking opportunities that come my way even if I am feeling scared about facing what results might come from it.

9th May
A family night that flows well, brings happiness and unity, a great lesson, a great game and a great treat all make for a family that is happy and sleeps well.

10th May
I have so many aspects of my life that bring me happiness, my family, my friends, my beliefs, my church, my blog, my communities, my home and myself, I am truly a blessed woman and love my life I am living.

Taking this journey has been really insightful for me. It has helped me to feel happy but also has created extra happiness in my heart knowing that so many others are participating and joining in as well. I am so looking forward to reading and having a sneak peak into what made you happy over the past month. Let's let the linking begin.

If you have never participated in a blog link up before this is what you need to do:
1. Scroll down to the bottom of this post.
2. Click on the link which says 'you are next enter here'
3. In the first box enter your blog title or link title eg. seven cherubs
4. In the second box enter your blog URL for your blog post - copy and paste it in
5. Click the enter your link button
6. I have made this post a blog hop so if you want to add all the entries to your post you can click on the link to get the code and add it to the 'Edit HTML' section of your own blog post at the bottom.

With that all said. Let's get Happy.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Battle Hymn of the Aussie Mother

I just finished reading Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Even though I was expecting it to be shocking and different, I have to say I was really blown away by some of Amy Chua's parenting tactics. I am no Tiger Mother, some of my friends my disagree - I do run a tight ship in many ways, and after reading this book I am feeling that I am more of a 'hippy, free spirit type of mother' in the way I am raising my children.

Amy's book is brave, it is in your face and it is bold. At times I felt it was ridiculous even, as a parenting example and way over the top. Her attempts at humour I really did not find funny (maybe I was too tired when I read it?) at all but I have to say that on so many pages I would find myself thinking ~ Yes, I agree with that principle and then the next minute saying to myself ~ No way! that is so harsh!!!

It was a roller coaster read.

Amy shares her journey in raising her two children in the Tiger mother way. The way where she decides what her daughters will excel at (with no input from them) and of how she makes them practice hours and hours each day on the instruments she chose for them. Her daughters were forced to be good at everything they did and were not allowed to be involved in any other activities outside of school. Amy's parenting method involved screaming at her children, withholding food and toilet breaks and shaming her children into performing and accepting her way of living.

One daughter is portrayed as the loving, obedient daughter who excels and is thankful to her mother. The younger daughter rebels, battles with her mother and in the end gets to chose what she wants to do with her life. It is quite an intense read and a very personal account of what happens in their home.

I agree that to become good at most things in life you have to work for it, you have to practise and push yourself to be the best that you can be. That many worthwhile pursuits are difficult to achieve and gain in life and that it takes serious effort to get to where you want to be. I also believe that during childhood it is a wonderful time to teach great principles and values to your children that will stay with them for a life time.

What I struggle with in Amy's book is the push for perfection, the striving for complete excellence in everything that you do. I worry about the effect that this will have on children. To me, striving for perfectionism can be dangerous. I love that it can be about healthy growth and achievement, but I also know it can lead to thinking: I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish it. It can lead to always wanting to please others, depression and anxiety. What happened to accepting who we are, being good enough and accepting our imperfections? For me learning skills takes time, there is a natural learning process as we grow as a child and develop. I am always concerned for children who have this time taken away from them. In a way and to me, Amy places her children on a fast track to so-called perfectionism that is leading to short term happiness.

I also struggle with the thinking that it is acceptable to shame a child into achieveing a goal, to verbally abuse them and accepting that this behaviour is alright because children are strong enough to accept it and move on from it.  I love the simple definition from Brene Brown:
Guilt = I did something bad (behaviour)
Shame = I am bad (self-worth).

I believe my children can achieve great things in life and in a way I encourage them, push them a little but in no way do I shame them or criticise them into getting to that goal. I am sensitive to how my children feel, it does not mean I don't hurt their feelings, or at times am even hated as parent but I try to communicate with them in a more effective way other than yelling and shaming.

In no way as a mother do I want my children growing up thinking that they are bad because they could not achieve a certain goal or task that I set for them. For me, this life is a journey of discovery, of learning and growing and my children need to learn these things on their own. Sure, I offer guidance and counsel but I do not step in and take over. I support them in the choices they make and allow them the agency to determine what they want from life.

I believe it is important to get a balance in raising children. That balance involves parenting with courage and kindness. It is about disciplining and also encouraging. For me I am a parent and mother but I am also a friend. I teach, I train and I also listen and love. I speak positively and encourage my children to be happy, I help them seek happiness by trying new things they chose and want to do and do not override their choices in life by constantly professing that I know better.

I know that Amy is speaking generally when she uses the term Tiger (Chinese) mothers and I am also speaking generally when I speak about Aussie Mothers. Compared to Tiger mothers we are a more relaxed group. We sometimes adopt the 'she'll be right mate' attitude with parenting but we also want the best for our children and can encourage them to achieve great things. We are actively engaged in raising our children, we drive them to sports activities, we help out in the school classroom, we put their needs first in many ways and strive to be the best mothers we can be.

I am not an Aussie mother who gets a report card that has below adverage grades and says to myself 'Crickey! what happened here?' and then does nothing about it. I swing into action: I talk, I discuss, I face issues and I care enough to be involved in helping my child improve. I know Amy is saying a Tiger mother would never have let it get to that stage in the first place and I know many Aussie mothers who would be the same, but sometimes life throws you a curve ball, challenges and trials get the better of you and you know what...it is O.K!

Of course Amy and I were going to clash in this book as happiness is not a concept that she dwells on. Tiger parents do not address happiness. I really can't answer if us Aussie parents and children are happier people, but I can say that I am at least pursuing happiness and am encouraging other mothers to do the same.

Although this book drove me crazy on so many levels, after reading it I did want to be more interested in what the kids were doing at school, I did want to encourage them more in public and not just at home, I did want to have more one-on-one converstations about life and to try to push them to do a little bit better in what ever they set their minds to.

But, overall my main thinking was: I don't need my children to be the best piano player ever or to play at Carnegie Hall to know that I think they are extraordinary, I already think they are every day.