Heartfelt Running

One more sleep and I will be hitting the road to reach a goal I have had for a long time. I will be running my first 10K, in public no less, which is something I never thought I would do. I am amazed that I am doing this after I have finished having all of my children and my body is in a far worse state than when I was younger. I am amazed that I can even run 10K at all!

It has been a difficult mental journey to get to this stage but I am here. I am not in this race to win, I am in this race to better myself. I am not running to be skinny, I am running to be strong. I need more strength in my life and running is helping me achieve that. One more restless sleep and it will happen. I am going to take it on and give it a go. 

I can't begin to tell you how many times I have started trying to achieve this goal and failed to make it. This is the longest I have ever tried running for. When I first started on my running journey I was really scared about putting myself out there and not being able to do it. I am so not a runner and was really scared about failing.

Now I am no longer scared about failing. I know I can do it. I have now done it several times before and I know I can do it again. I may not look like a runner and may not look fit compared to many other people hitting the road in the morning but I do have a determined attitude and a great motivator to keep me running. I am not a normal runner, I am a Heartfelt runner.

As a Heartfelt runner I will be running for cherubs and angels and thinking of all of those Mum's who have lost sweet cherubs. Running for me is painful. Exercise and pain do not mix well for me. I am too weak. I stop when it starts to hurt and I give up. In thinking about this I keep coming back to the fact that it is nothing compared to what many women face when they lose a baby. You have no choice when it comes to facing pain when you lose a cherub. You have to face it, you have to immerse yourself in it and you have to live through it to move on. So I am going to take the pain and push myself through it to the end of the 10K. I will know that what I am feeling is nothing compared to what many other women are facing right now and living with on a daily basis.

Here is how my 10K is going to pan out in my mind:

1st Kilometre {K} > For Chelsea
2nd K > For Nathan
3rd K > For Liahona
4th K > For Harmony
5th K > For Eli
6th K > For Sam
7th K > For Liberty
8th K > For Avery {Kristie's cherub and whose story changed my heart}
9th K > For All the Heartfelt Mums I know and those on my Seven Cherubs facebook page
10th K > Trish who has lost a cherub, who has been training like me and who has inspired me so much lately.

I really appreciate all the encouraging words and support you have given me. It has made the world of difference to helping me get this far. So now I am drinking lots of water, laying around resting and preparing myself for a restless sleep. Woo Hoo! Bring on that 10k run! Did I just say that???!!!

As a reminder:

{Heartfelt is a volunteer organisation of professional photographers from all over Australia dedicated to giving the gift of photographic memories to families that have experienced stillbirths, premature and ill infants and children in the Neonatal Intensive Care Units of their local hospitals, as well as children with serious and terminal illnesses. Heartfelt is dedicated to providing this gift to families in a caring, compassionate manner. All services are provided free of charge.}

How to run a successful charity fundraiser online

Ever since the day I decided to raise money for Lisa King I have been swamped with emails from other women asking me my tips on how to run a successful charity fundraiser online. Most of these emails are from women who are trying to raise awareness and money for a friend in need and some are from women who are trying to raise money for themselves.

Every time I read these emails my heart breaks. There is so much sorrow and suffering happening in homes around the world and I try my best to reply according to what I believe will help them the most. As this has become a little time consuming on my part I have decided to write a blog post about it so I can simply send them a link with my advice and tips.

Now, I am not an expert at charity fundraising that is for sure and helping out the King Family was the first and probably the last time I will ever do such an event. I also am a big believer that the only reason we raised so much money for the King family was because of the wonderful, kind people that they are and it had absolutely nothing to do with me. People donated money because of them and I played a very small role in the whole process.

With that in mind I will share with you the steps that I took to make the fundraiser happen. This may come across as blunt and uncaring but if you are going to set out to raise money you need to use wisdom and think about how to best touch the hearts of people so they will donate money.

1. Act immediately: As soon as I heard that Lisa has lost her husband so quickly after losing her son, I did not wait for permission from anyone, I acted immediately and set up a fundraising page. I kind of went with the act now and seek forgiveness later factor. Maybe not the smartest move but I knew many people would be shocked to hear the news of Lisa and would want to do something to help immediately. I gave them an opportunity to do something right away while they were feeling many different emotions.

2. Quickly educate yourself: I immediately started making phone calls to my bank, Paypal and other charity run organisations to seek out the best and easiest way to raise money. I asked a lot of questions about fees involved, permits and permissions to raise money. You do not need a license or permit to raise money for a friend in need here in Australia and you do not need to register as a charity organisation to make it happen. What you do need to be aware of is that most sites that allow you to raise money charge a fee. They take a percentage of the money raised and you often do not get the money transferred into the designated bank account until the end of each month. The money is not immediately available in most cases.

3. Make it visual: In deciding what platform to host the fundraiser for the King family, I decided to go with 'My Cause' instead of Paypal because you can set up a fundraising page and can clearly see how much money is being raised. I wanted to have a visual page (also include a visual image if possible so people can connect to the person or people involved) where people could see how much money was being donated and a chance to be supportive in helping me achieve my fundraising goal. It worked really well and I felt that people loved checking in on how much money we had raised and I even found myself glued to the fundraising page watching the tally raise daily. 'My Cause' does have fees involved and I have to mention that I found the customer service terrible and very insensitive. I may have had words with them!

4. Tell a story: If you are raising money for a friend or family member in need, tell the story of why you are seeking help and what the money is need for. People will want to know why they should donate money and what their money will be used for. Be upfront, be bold and be honest. The more specific the better. Do not be afraid to add emotion to your story. Sad but true - if you can make people cry, people will donate more money and the more tragic the story, the more success you will have.

5. Set a fundraising goal: Set a realistic fundraising goal amount you want to achieve according to the charity needs you have. My first goal I set for the King Family was $10,000. I really felt that with the amount of readers I have on my blog that I surely would be able to raise $10,000 over the time period of a month to help them out to pay for headstones. Imagine my shock when I reached that goal over the first two days! People will also donate more money when they can see what the total amount is and if you have a goal that you want to reach. They will also put in a few extra dollars to round it off etc. to help you reach that goal if you have a visual page for your charity needs. Remember you can change the fundraising goal at anytime. I kept increasing mine as the days went by and my last goal I put in was for $45,000. We came close on the fundraising page and finished at $44,694.

6. Have a variety of choices available to donate: When raising money for charity it is important to remember that not everyone likes to donate money, especially in a public way and not everyone is in a position to do so. When setting up the charity fundraiser for Lisa King I set up a visual fundraising page, a private bank account for anonymous donations and also included a postal address to give people the option of sending gifts. All three choices worked really well and I only ever shared what amount we raised on the fundraising page and kept the other two options private with what was donated and received.

6. Use social media: If you are going to have a successful charity fundraiser online you need to use social media to get the word out. If you have a blog, write a blog post like Deb to help Trish and ask people to share it. If it is a long term fundraiser, set up a separate blog like Bree. I was lucky that I already had a facebook page and twitter account that I could use to spread the message. It is worth the effort to set up a separate facebook page or twitter account to help raise awareness. If you are also going to be holding a facebook auction I highly recommend setting up a separate page. With twitter people can easily retweet your message and spread the word and with facebook people can easily hit the share button and share your message. Do not be afraid to ask people to help share it for you. People love to be involved in helping others and will often spread your fundraiser faster than you possibly could. Also contact your local paper and see if they can do an article for you to help spread your fundraising goal and be careful to share the right links as I find they always get it wrong! When using social media remember to try not to spam people with your charity fundraiser no matter how desperate you feel because nobody likes to feel pressured to donate.

7. Be grateful: Always, always remember to be grateful for any donation that you receive. Hardly anyone really has any spare cash to donate to charity these days and so keep in mind that any donation you receive has come at a great sacrifice to the people who gave it. Most donations you will find will come from women who are often struggling as mother's at home or at work to support their own families but are prepared to go without to help someone else. They donate because the story has touched their hearts and any money donated should be seen and used as special and sacred money.
Continue to share your thanks and appreciation all through the fundraising journey.

I am still amazed, thankful and blown away by the support we received for the King family. My heart was touched by the many sacrifices people made to donate and the amount of support we received to help them. For me now, I made the difficult decision to not support any charity fundraising. I receive at least 5 emails a week from women asking me to support them. I read every heartbreaking story and try to help where I can but I don't share them on my facebook page or blog.  It is too hard for me to decide who to support so I chose to support none. I have received many hate emails over this calling me selfish and many other words I won't mention but I know that these women are often dealing with great stress and don't know where else to turn. I have already seen my readers give so much I simply can't ask them to donate any more. I hope people understand why I have had to come to this decision but I am often happy to help in any other way I can. I hope this blog post will be a good start.

parenting without power struggles

Parenting without power struggles

Raising happy, resilient kids while staying cool, calm and connected.

Are you as shocked by that last statement as I am? 
Sounds a little unreal doesn't it...staying cool, calm and collected as a parent!

I have a thing about parenting books, which is why I probably will never write one myself, as I am a big believer in trusting your instincts and parenting from the heart. I do however believe they are worth reading when you are starting out as a parent to give you some basic knowledge and techniques on how to discipline, to learn effective strategies and parent with values. 

I was intrigued by the title of this parenting book and how Susan encourages you as a parent to come alongside your children to help them co-operate, rather than coming at them with threats and bribes. By staying calm and being confident as a parent she teaches you to parent from a strong connection with your child and to create a better parent-child harmony in your home. As a mother, psychotherapist and marriage/family therapist she uses her work experience to teach strategies and skills on how to deal with the challenges you will face with your children growing up.

While I appreciate that she has a wealth of knowledge and experience I could not get past the fact that she has only one child. With the many parenting books that I have read over the years I often find a common occurance: most family therapists only have one or two children. I know that is normal in today's society and that I am not the norm with a large family but it seems to me as if their work puts them off having any more. Being too judgemental? Probably. I have no idea why she has one child and really it is none of my business. Just my personal opinion which I am sure some of you will not agree with but while I do not doubt that she has great knowledge to share, the fact that she only has one child kind of put's me off wanting to take her advice. There is something to be said for the experience of a mother with several children in the home and dealing with power struggles. Sure, you have power struggles with one child, but with a large family I find that power struggles are taken to a whole new level!

I also find it is often easier to see what problems are happening in other people's homes, families and lives but harder to see what is happening in our own homes, families and lives and to make changes to improve them. I can give my friends advice and encouragement but to actually do it myself, whole new level of effort and hard work! Anyway, I read her book and put my personal opinions aside and enjoyed what she had to share. 

So after reading her book here are some key points that I really enjoyed:

It is important to be in charge of your children, not in control of them.
Good relationships with your children help create resilience to dangerous, acting out behaviours.
Attachment (connection) to your children makes parenting easier.
A child grows up best when they have a variety of strong and loving attachments to caring adults around them.
It is essential that we sign up to be an important adult to other children.
A child becomes receptive if they feel us coming alongside them rather than at them.
Children open up when they feel we are genuinely interested in finding out who they are.
Kids only tell us their truth if we let them know that we can handle it.
Parents who intervene and give a child whatever they want, do them a disservice.
Children who believe that they can only be happy if events unfold in the way they wish become handicapped adults, unable to cope with disappointment. 
When you ask your child to do something, speak as though you are in charge and then walk away with the assumption that they will do what you asked.
One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is to delight in their unique interests, talents and personalities. 
A child who is destined for success and joy is celebrated for who they are instead of who they could or should be.
When parents encourage a child to pay attention to the call of their heart they give them a profound gift.
By constantly stimulating our children with activities, we are depriving them of the chance to drop into the present moment.
Our children learn their greatest lessons by watching how we live our lives.

I find in my home, my challenging head butting parenting moments changed when I decided to pick my battles. Having a power struggle over every single issue is exhausting, depressing and horrible. Since I started picking my battles or in other words, deciding what issues were the most important to me, the power struggles started to disappear and the contention in our home also disappeared. I now only pick a few issues that I take a stand on as a parent and the rest of the time I am able to be relaxed and work on developing that closer connection and relationship with my children. I am still working on being cool, calm and collected all the time as a parent but I do believe I am trying my best to raise happy kids. 

While this book will not solve all the problems you may have in your home it will give you some strategies and techniques to help improve your relationship with your children and bring a better feeling in your home. Susan does write in a style that is easy to read and she comes at parenting with a loving, caring attitude not one of force. Her book includes real life stories from her work that all parents could relate to. 

She covers such questions as:

How can you get your children to do their homework without meltdowns, threats or bribes?
How can you have a drama-free morning where the kids actually get out the door in time for school?
How can you manage your child's screen time without making them want to hide what they are doing from you?

It is available to purchase from Simon & Schuster Here
Susan has her own website you might like to look at Parenting Without Power Struggles.

So tell me: 
Do you have power struggles in your home? How do you deal with them? 
Do you stay calm and collected?

*I was sent a free copy of this book to review and enjoyed it so I chose to share it on my blog*

Hidden Brisbane Playground: Calamvale District Park

If you live in Brisbane I highly recommend you check out a new playground in Calamvale.

It is a hidden gem.
I say hidden because you can't see this massive playground from the road.
You would have no idea it is there.

The playground is located on Formby Road, Calamvale.

When you drive down Formby Road you will see a small carpark with a grass area in front of it.
If you walk up the path you will find it opens out into this playground.

We love to visit and there is a lot space for kids to run around.
There are shelter areas and public toilets. 

It is very clean and has a variety of play equipment for all ages.
I will let the pictures below tell you how awesome it is.

Hope to see you there one day!

simply beautiful jewels: strong is the new skinny bracelet

Strong is the new skinny

I love to wear jewellery that inspires me in some way. Some of my favourite pieces of jewellery contain inspiring and motivating words. Words that connect to my heart and uplift me. One of my new favourite pieces that I am adoring at the moment is this bracelet that I found on etsy. As I am taking on the challenge of running a 10K marathon this month and am trying to increase my fitness I fell in love with this message. My goal in running this marathon has been to increase my fitness, to achieve a personal goal and to become stronger, mentally and physically. Becoming strong is my focus and I love that I found a little extra motivation to help me along the way. Right now I need all the motivation I can get!

Do you have any jewellery that inspires you?

Target Toy Sale Gift Card Giveaway


If you are a Mum and live in Australia, you will know about the Target Toy Sale.
For many Mum's this is a wonderful opportunity to get the Christmas shopping done in June.

Over the years, I have loved the chance to pick up some bargain toys when the Target Toy Sale rolled around. Normally, before attending the toy sale we eagerly await our catalogue to arrive in the mail and then I sit down and devour the catalogue, deciding what would be the best gifts to purchase. I try to choose wisely what would best suit each child and try to budget carefully so that it is not a large expense for us at the end of the year. The cherubs treat the Target catalogue as a greatly treasured book and love to circle each toy that they really want. With over 250 exclusive toys it is a tough choice! 

Some years nearly all of the Target catalogue is circled, of course, but they have slowly learned to only circle a few items that they really want the most. Hard for young children to put into practice but a great lesson to learn.

Target is one of my favourite places to shop and they have made it really easy for you to view what they have for sale with an online catalogue and with over 100 toys at half price. If you have cherubs...totally worth checking out. The sale runs for 3 weeks, June 21st - July 11th.

Today I have 1 x $50 Gift card to giveaway here on my blog. 

Here are the giveaway guidelines:

1. Giveaway open to Australian residents only
2. Giveaway closes Monday 25th, 2012 (a quick one!)
3. Make sure you have email attached to your profile or leave it below
4. Leave a comment below and tell me:

What toy do your children most want this year?

For more chances to win a gift card click: Here or Here or Here or Here or Here or Here or Here. You can also check out my other giveaways I currently have running: Herbal Essences Hair Pack  and Mama Love Cashmere Cardigan giveaway.


preparing for child free days

I am currently bracing myself for a new stage of life:
Child free days.

Very soon I am going to have all of my seven cherubs attending school.
I will have child free days, all to myself.

Amazing! I never thought these days would come.
I have had a child or children at home for 13 years straight now.

Child free days seemed so far away and yet now they seem to have come so fast.

I am still trying to get my head around it happening, it being real.
Part of me is delirious with excitement and the other part of me wants to cry deep sobs in my room.

I am going to miss those crazy games I have to play that bore me to death.
I am going to miss the concerts, the tantrums and sweet memories of little ones running around my home.

My cherubs are growing up so fast and I am so proud of who they are today.
But, I will sure miss having a cherub at home.

In preparation for this new stage of my life I have started talking to myself more, a natural progress I think :)
I have started writing a list of all the fun activities I want to do by myself.

So far my list includes: afternoon sleeps, watching movies and reading books.
 Yes, I am sure going to miss my cherubs but seriously...sleeping, movies and books is looking pretty good right now!

What makes a good blog and blogger?

What makes a good blogger?

I have read a lot of blogs over the past couple of years and have spent a great deal of time analysing what I think makes a good blog and blogger. Obviously, what is a good blog and blogger is going to be diffrerent for everyone but I thought I would share my thoughts on what I love to see in the blog world. 

There are of course some exceptions to my thoughts as there are some blogs that don't use any images at all and are just brilliant writers etc. but generally speaking to me these are the common tips that I have seen good bloggers do.

1. They share their story. They are not afraid to share honestly and openly what has happened to them over their lifetime and believe that what they have to say is worthwhile and will make a difference.

2. They use good images. I love a blog that has great images. Either pictures they have taken themselves or images that are found on the internet for use.

3. They write from the heart. I love to read powerful writing. Writing that makes you laugh or cry, that touches your heart and leaves you feeling like a different person after reading it.

4. They link to other bloggers. I love to see a blogger share some blog love and link to other bloggers. All bloggers love to get traffic to their site and it is a joy to see someone sharing something you have written.

5. They know their worth. When working with companies or brands they know that they have influence and value. They are confident enough to ask for compensation and respect themselves enough to value their words, effort and time.

6. They don't take themselves too seriously. They know that having a blog should be fun and enjoyable. They know that not everyone is going to agree with what they have to say and are prepared to handle comments that may cause them to feel offended.

7. They know their blog voice. A good blogger knows their own voice and style and is consistent. They are not tempted to change and become someone else for the sake of keeping readers or companies happy. You can know they will be reliable with what they share and say.

8. They love their readers. I love to see a blogger who listens to what their readers want. They answer questions, they appreciate that they took the time to stop by and they make them feel important.

9. They have a simple blog design. I love a blog that is easy to navigate and looks simple and inviting. A good blog design helps you feel that the blog is an extension of who they are as a blogger and you feel good every time you visit. 

10. They know content is key. I love a blogger who knows that content is key to having a good blog. They work hard to provide good content that readers will enjoy and are not afraid to put in the time and effort to research if need be. 

11. They mentor other bloggers. I love a blogger who takes the time to help other bloggers progress and better other blogs. They share what they have learned and support the blogging community. 

12. They are teachable. I love to see a blogger acknowledge that they still have more to learn. They are open to new ideas, they admit mistakes and keep moving forward to improve upon what they already know.

13. They have a life besides their blog. A good blogger knows that a blog is an extension of them and their thoughts but is not their whole life. They have real life relationships and live life off their blog as well as on it.

14. They know when to take a break. I love to see a blogger admit they need a break. They value their own mental and emotional health and can step away from their blog to take care of themselves if need be.

15. They are not jealous. I love a blogger who celebrates the success of other bloggers and knows that comparison leads to misery. They understand that we all have different voices, talents and opportunities and is happy to support others in their blog journey.

Naturally, there is a lot more that could be added to this list but these are the top thoughts that stand out to me on what I have seen makes up a good blog and blogger. There are after all so many blogs to get ideas from these days!

What would you add to my list?

Mama Love Cashmere Cardigan Giveaway

The older I get the more I want clothes that are stylish and comfortable, not just stylish. Gone are the days of just wearing clothing because it was stylish no matter how much it cost or how uncomfortable it was. I am a Mama now who seeks comfort to help me when I am rushing around after my cherubs but I still have that desire to want to look good at the same time. Finding clothing that fits both categories is getting harder and harder as I grow older. Some days I feel like I am turing into a grandma with my dress standards but one of my favourite clothing pieces that I believe is a must in a wardrobe is a good cardigan because it fits both roles. 

I am a very happy Mama right now as I have a new favourite cardigan that I am wearing almost daily. It is a gorgeous knit from Mama Love that can be worn anywhere. It looks amazing over jeans and boots, dressed up a little more with pants or at home with your PJs on in front of the TV and the grey marle colour works well with everything.

It is very comfortable and long. Even though I am short I love a long cardigan. It is big enough to wrap around and cover my chest...rare for me and a must! Often I find a great cardigan but find it sits too short. I am not tall or thin so I love a cardigan that covers me up and allows me to feel comfortable with the way I look as well. I am wearing a size large and probably could have gone the medium size but I like my cardigans a little bigger.

Mama Love is a online store that stocks quality clothing for women, men and babies. Their focus is on brands of sleep & loungewear that is 'Mama' friendly. The pieces are not only functional but gorgeous to wear. I love that this cardigan would also be great to wear whilst you are pregnant and is one of those great pieces that you can keep in your wardrobe and wear pregnant or not. 

I adore that this cardigan is soft and so comfortable. I love to wear it tied up and also hanging open. The cardigan is made from a blend of Cashmere/Wool/Angora. It is light weight but still keeps you warm on cold mornings and is wonderful for layering up no matter what you have on during your day. My new favourite outfit to wear for the school drop off and to keep on for other activities and events I have on during my day.

I am really, really delighted that I have one cardigan to giveaway here on my blog. 
Valued at $120.00. You can view the cardigan and more images here.

Enter Here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
If you don't have facebook and still want to enter you can leave a comment below and tell me:

What are your tips for staying stylish as a Mama?

**I received a cardigan to review and keep as payment for this blog post.

a special friendship: meeting Lisa King

At the beginning of the year one of my blog friends, Lisa King, had a tragedy happen in her family. She lost her son and her husband within months of each other. As a mother, wife and blogger my heart ached for her and I felt the need to help out, to do something, to do anything to lighten her burden and the heartache she was feeling.

So I wrote a blog post and set up a fundraising page to see if I could raise some funds to pay for the two headstones for the grave of her son and husband. I felt that with the amount of readers on my blog I could surely raise enough money to cover the cost of that expense and maybe a little more to pay for groceries over the first month of dealing with her loss.

To my absolute shock we had a fundraising miracle and managed to raise $44,700. It was a beautiful heartbreak for Lisa and for me. Not only did we raise enough money for two gorgeous headstones for her sweet cherub and husband but we were able to help Lisa pay off her house! Incredible!

So you can imagine my delight this month when I was able to meet Lisa in person for the first time. Lisa came over to my home and it was a special meeting. It was so lovely to hug her and to talk about our families and life in general. I felt so thankful that I could meet such an inspiring lady and be involved in helping her in such a small way.

We filled my dining table with cherubs and had lunch together. We watched our children interacting together and had a great time talking. We briefly caught up on each other's lives and I was delighted to also meet Lisa's brother and mother. It was such a joyous moment to have them all in our home and to see them happy. We of course had to get together for some pictures of this special meeting and my cherubs had to get a little crazy in the pictures. Typical!  

We then headed off to church together and sadly said our goodbyes until the next time that we can meet. I am constantly in awe of the strength of Lisa and her determination to keep her life running and functioning for her three boys despite the sorrow and challenges she faces. I feel so blessed to know her and hope that I can have the faith and courage that she has one day. Once again I am so thankful to everyone who donated to help Lisa and her family. I still get teary whenever I think about it. I also highly recommend you check out her blog. It is an inspiring read.