Thursday, December 15, 2011

Elf on the Shelf Ideas

We have a new visitor in our house.
An Elf on the Shelf - Aussie edition.
A cheeky elf that is about to cause a lot of trouble.

I am a little excited, maybe even more than my kids!
I love that he is a blonde elf for a family of blonde cherubs.

He appeared out of nowhere with a note introducing himself to our family.
Kate shared a great way to introduce him and even has some free printable stamps.

So far in our house our naughty elf has:

Kidnapped all of the Pet Shop toys

Let us some snow from the North Pole

Went skiing on weetbix on our kitchen table

Some of you may even have your own Elf On The Shelf and may be more experienced at what some great ideas are to do with him. I am just starting out and thought I would put together a collection of good sites that have some fun ideas for causing mischief this Christmas. Here are some below:

Elf on the Shelf Ideas
Elf Magic Idea's
How to introduce the Elf to your family
15 creative ideas for your Elf on the Shelf
101 ideas for Elf on the Shelf
Cheeky pranks you can play with your kids
Elf on the Shelf Website

Below are some more images of what you can do:
Tips out toys and make a mess.
Paint the kids noses red while they are sleeping and leave a note.
Change the colour of the milk to green.
Hide in the freezer and steal the icecream.
Tips out the cereal.
Sit up in bed with the television remote.
Deface a family picture.
Steal the toilet paper.

I found all of these images on Pinterest.

The Elf on the Shelf even has a cute commercial that kids can watch:

I am looking forward to having fun with our elf.
Now we just need to give him a name.

Do you have one in your home???

P.S * I am guest posting over at Diminishing Lucy today on:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Christmas gift giving plan for my children

This year in the Seven Cherubs house I am working on a new Christmas gift giving plan for my cherubs. Normally our tradition is that each year for Christmas I look around for a new present or toy for each of my kids and by new I mean a whole new set or product to introduce to our family and home. After some reflection I have decided to make a change this year as I find by Christmas day I have exhausted myself and our expenses trying to get everything that they want and desire.

Seven kids with seven different personalities and desires = a frazzled and exhausted mum.

We long ago reached a stage where we had way too many toys and this year I just can't stand the idea of adding even more toy chaos to our home. My plan is to use more wisdom in my older age and have decided to build upon what we already have.

My new Christmas gift giving plan for my children is to look at what we already own around our home and to add to it or to build upon it. By the way, let's hope my kids don't see this post!

A couple of examples:

My girls love to play with 'Littlest Pet Shop' so I have purchased a few packs to add to this collection. I know it is something that they already love and as I have already purchased the big version of this product (in the picture above) all need to do is add a few more little things and I can increase the fun factor.

My kids also love to read the 39 clues and Diary of a Wimpy Kid books so I have purchased a few extra books to finish the collection off and to have it all up to date with the most recent stories. I also like to look at what other book series my children have started reading during the year and to surprise them by completing the series. I love reading these books as well and talking to my kids about them so this is a fun gift for all of us to share. I would much rather spend money on books than a toy that is cheap and broken in a couple of minutes.

My boys (and Liberty) love Transformers toys. As we already own several of the larger transformer toys which they received as birthday gifts, I have purchased some smaller versions available now to add to the collection and for them to have fun with. This way it is not as expensive as buying all of the bigger versions and we can still have more of the characters without having to pay the more expensive amount.

We are a big fan of Lego in our house and are continually trying to add to our collection. In the past I have tried purchasing smaller packs but found they did not get played with very much. This year as my boys are a little older I have purchased some larger lego packs I have been watching and waiting to go on special that will allow my children to work together. I am hoping that the larger pack will encourage team work and combined play.

My girls really love Beanie Kids. They love to collect them and adding to this collection I know will make then happy. Once upon a time I would have purchased a whole bunch of them but now I don't need to. If I purchase 1 or 2 I know they will be excited to have more in the collection. The Beanie Kids are shared and get swapped around so cutting back to 1 or 2 will be easier and my girls will still be happy.

So do you get my idea and my plan? Basically I am trying to keep it simple and to expand on a few collections we already have and to teach my kids to just enjoy what we already own. I don't know what the reaction will be this year from my kids but I do have a few surprises in store for them. All part of the Christmas gift giving fun when you are a parent.

So what is happening in your home this year? 
Trying to cut back or going all out this year on gifts?

Monday, December 12, 2011

5 tips to avoid social media depression

A little while ago I recorded a vlog about how I feel about being a blogger. I shared how blogging can cause blogger or social media depression. As much as I love having a blog and being a blogger, I have days where I find this blogging business totally exhausting and downright depressing. It is a lot of work running a blog and it can be depressing as a blogger when you pour your heart out and no-one comments. I know I am not alone in feeling this way by the many private chats I have had and also by the comments that were left on my vlog post.

I have been writing on my Seven Cherubs blog for nearly 2 years now and have had many highs and lows during that time. For my lows, I have worked through my emotions of not feeling good enough when I enter the dangerous territory of comparing myself to other bloggers. I worked really hard to be one of those popular bloggers and totally drained myself in the process. I have come to accept that I simply am not one of those popular bloggers that everyone adds to their blogroll. (For those people who do have me on their blogroll - a big thank you I do appreciate it!)

I am one of those blogs that people like to read but not to actually show that they came to visit by leaving a comment on a post or to even admit that they like my writing and what I have to share. I have many blog stalkers....silent stalkers and I know you are there because my blog stats tell me so.

I am happy for you to stalk and to read, I am not going to take it personally and I appreciate you doing so. I accept that this is how my blog is and how it is going to continue to be. I blog my own way and I am happy.

I have also had many wonderful moments where I have received some lovely comments from readers who have inspired me and touched me in wonderful ways. I love comments and I love getting to know you better. But, as a blogger if I set my mood or writing according to the comments and visits I receive each day I know I would spend a lot of my time feeling very depressed.

So today I wanted to share with you some of the lessons I have learned on my blog journey and my top 5 tips of how to avoid social media depression. Yes, it is real and it happens!

1. Social Media Depression: Know what social media outlet brings YOU happiness

There are many different social media sites available today to help you promote yourself. I have personally tried spending time in all areas that I know of that help me connect with other bloggers and readers of my blog. Some of the choices available today are: facebook, twitter, google +, linkedin, instagram, pinterest etc. I have found that some social media sites cause me to feel more depressed quicker than others.

On twitter I find I feel sadder the fastest as I can often throw out a tweet only to find that no-one will respond. I may also try to respond to someone or tweevesdrop in on a converstation only to be ignored. Often I try to share a blog post that I love only to not get a thanks from anyone and especially the person who owns the blog. All of these incidents can contribute towards me feeling lonely and not popular as a blogger and a person (I do have some self esteem where I do value myself, I just wanted to add!). So now I only spend a small amount of time on twitter and do not expect to get any response from anyone. When I do get a response or a thank you it is a lovely surprise and I enjoy it but I do not rely on it.

I spend more of my time on Instagram and Facebook as I get a better response and I feel happier in those social media settings. Knowing what social media outlet you enjoy the most and what is going to help you feel happier is where you should choose to spend your time.

2. Social Media Depression: Set a time limit 

We all know how easy it can be to get distracted by social media. Many times I have sat down to write a blog post or to even pay my bills and made the mistake of checking what is happening on facebook. Several hours later, I have been shocked to discover that half of my morning has disappeared and I ended up finding out 50 things about 50 people that I really did not need to know or read 10 articles that did not uplift me in any way, shape or form.

I actually spent a day testing out how I would feel if I spent most of my time on twitter and facebook. I found it very, very depressing. I felt exhausted from doing very little physical exercise, mentally frazzled from reading so many boring and ranty updates, emotionally saddened from getting very little response and connection on twitter and by the end of the day found it very hard to count my blessings.

Having a time limit or alarm set for how long you will spend on social media will allow you to stay on track with other personal responsibilities or goals you may have set for that day. I have been working on sticking to my assigned task for the day and then rewarding myself with some social media time. So much more productive and I find I enjoy my social media time more when I know I have worked hard before hand to earn that break

3. Social Media Depression: Have a blog goal 

Taking the time to write out what you want to achieve with your blog will help you know clearly what you need to do as a blogger. When you feel depressed and lonely, returning to your blog goal will keep you focused and determined to keep moving forward.

If your goal is to simply have a blog as a personal record for your family then it does not matter who you connect with. It is lovely to make blog friends but if you are not receiving a lot of comments do not let it stop you from writing and remembering. Keep moving forward by writing and treasuring your family.

If your goal is to use your blog to promote your business then find out where your target audience spends most of their time in social media and start spending your time there. Keep writing and promoting yourself and your products and do not stop. Believe in what you have to offer and do not give up.

If your goal is to write and uplift others, distracting yourself by wasting time trying to connect with certain popular groups may not be what will help you reach out to others. Look at who you want to really touch and help and then write specific blog posts that you know will help them. I have found that meeting popular bloggers has been lovely and delightful but it has not really helped to increase my blog traffic as much as writing specific blog posts has for my readers.

You may be surprised to see that when you look at your original blog goal that you may already be achieving what you set out to do and that you can be happy with your accomplishments. Wandering off on a different blog path that others are choosing to take or trying to keep up with what other bloggers are doing, will only lead you to feeling depressed and upset when you may not receive the same response that they do. Set your own goals and your own path and stick to it.

4. Social Media Depression: Know that we are all similar but unique

Something that really worries me...A when I hear about other bloggers feeling depressed and deleting blog posts. I hear of bloggers who spend a great deal of time writing a blog post, then get ready to post it to only to discover that someone else may have written a blog post on a similar topic. They then doubt themselves and start to worry that others may feel they have copied or stolen the idea and go ahead and delete the blog post that they wrote.

Do not delete blog posts you have written and I am talking about original writing here and not copy/paste blog posts. If you are worried that a blogger may feel you have copied a blog post you have written, link to them in your post, email them and let them know and ask how they feel about it if you are really worried.

My advice is to keep all of your blog posts as you may even rework them later on in the future. I also keep those blog posts that I have written and I know I will never publish - you know, when you get in one of 'those' moods. I print them out and add them to my journal as it is an important record of how I was feeling. Even when I look back on it and my writing is a little dramatic and full of too much emotion. I keep them as I believe in keeping it real in life.

Be confident with what you have to say and do not feel like you do not have anything to contribute. We all write about very similar topics as bloggers but we are all unique and have a different slant/version/opinion/perspective on life. Do not let yourself feel worthless or depressed because someone else has written about something you wanted to write about. Believe in what you have to say and know that others will be touched and uplifted by your words.

5. Social Media Depression: Know that social media is unrealistic

I wrote a post about being a snapshot blogger talking about how most bloggers only show you a snapshot of their lives. They show you a small little section of what life is like for them and often leave out all of the not so fun parts of life. If you spend a lot of time during your day on the internet reading blogs, reading status updates on facebook and twitter you can quickly start to feel like your life is boring and worthless. It always seems as if everybody else is having more fun, has better children, is going on holiday, has an immaculate home, has a great sponsored post opportunity...the list is endless.

I even worry that here on my own blog where I try to keep things positive and uplifting that many other women see our family as an 'ideal family' in many ways. We are not ideal or perfect. We love each other and are trying our best but we have such a long way to go in being a good example to others. I also love to write about keeping it real by sharing challenges and trials. The last thing I want is to be portraying a family who is perfect. We are far from it.

Keeping a realistic perspective of life will help you to avoid feeling depressed when using social media. I am all for using the internet, social media and especially blogs to connect with other people and especially women and mothers to help you feel uplifted and not so lonely in your personal life. Having said that, if your blog or social media is your life and your only connection with the outside world then you need to get out more and to get a real life, life. As difficult as it may be, (I want to say here that I am not referring to people who are suffering from a real form of depression in any form as I know that is a whole different situation and challenge) it will help you overcome general feelings of feeling low or depressed and help you see things as they really are.

Now that I have shared my tips I would love to know if you have anything that you would add:

What you have you found as a blogger or as a social media user?
Do you feel depressed the more time you spend using it or do you just find it fun and enjoy it?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

pinterest + mormon messages

I love Pinterest. I also love finding pins/quotes with a Mormon message or religious message. Some of my favourite pins are quotes from leaders of my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I even have a whole board dedicated to faithful, religious messages.

We have wonderful inspired leaders who are aware of what we need to hear and often speak directly to the women of our church. They inspire me to be a better woman, mother and wife. They also inspire me to just be me. Today I thought I would share some of them with you and you may even be familiar with them already. You can follow me as sevencherubs on pinterest. Enjoy x